Gatland keeping an open mind over Lions squad

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Warren Gatland said there is still time for a British and Irish Lions outsider to "come out of the blue" to make the tour of New Zealand and gave a strong indication that Stuart Hogg will board the plane.

Lions coach Gatland has two months until he names his squad for the monumental challenge of facing the All Blacks in a three-match series - which starts at Eden Park on 24 June.

The wily New Zealander is unsurprisingly keeping his cards close to his chest over selection after two rounds of the Six Nations.

But the 53 year-old picked out Hogg as a player who has impressed after the Scotland full-back scored two tries in a victory over Ireland before adding another in the loss to France last weekend.

"There's been some good individual performances. We haven't spoken as a group of coaches yet, I've let them concentrate on their own roles and make sure there's no distractions for them," Gatland said.

"We will come together in a few weeks and start really trying to, not finalise things, but talk about individuals that have been impressing. There's been a couple of good performances in the first round and again another group of players stepped up last weekend."

Asked for one player who has caught the eye, he replied: "Stuart Hogg has played alright hasn't he? Missed a few tackles last week, so he'll probably be looking to improve his defensive stuff, but in attack he's been pretty good.

"At the moment I just go and watch games. I haven't written down a squad at this stage.

"[I am] definitely open-minded. Somebody can come out of the blue or someone with their performances already in the last few weeks as well, I want to make sure I keep an open mind and when we come together as a group of coaches for selecting and finalising I want to know their thoughts as well.

"I will have the final say, but it won't be solely my selection, everyone will have a huge amount of input. 

"I've seen some good performances, there's a couple of players still to come back from injury and it'll be interesting to see when they come back playing in the Six Nations what their form is like.

"A couple of players haven't played a lot recently, so we'll see how they go in the next few weeks."


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