“He didn’t feel a part of the squad” – Jim Hamilton Speaks Out About Finn Russell’s Lions Snub

Former Scotland international Jim Hamilton has said that discontent was rife in the British & Irish Lions camp on this summer’s tour of New Zealand.

The burly second row retired from rugby at the end of last season but, having spoken to many of the players who featured in Warren Gatland’s squad, he has revealed that a lot of them were unhappy.

O’Brien was the first to break silence over Gatland’s tactics

This comes a week after Irish international and starting Lions openside Sean O’Brien lambasted Gatland for his coaching tactics saying “If we had a little more structure during the weeks, and more of an attack gameplan, driven way earlier in the tour, I think we could have won 3-0”.

He went on to say that “with the players we had, we should have won the series.”

This seems to be a view that Jim Hamilton supports:

“There was a lot of discontent with Gatland. That’s what we’ve heard and kind of know.”

However he did disagree on one point “Whether or not they would have won 3-0, though, I beg to differ”.

Many thought Finn Russell unlucky not to have been named in the original Lions squad

What was most upsetting from Big Jim’s perspective was the way Finn Russell and Alan Dell were treated. The Scotland and Warriors fly half was called up late to the tour as part of Gatland’s “Geography 6”, so called because they only received the nod thanks to touring in the region with their respective nations.

“I spoke to Finn in the hotel ahead of the second Test and there had been a lot of injuries. He was wearing the full stash and I asked him how he was getting on and he said he was finding it quite difficult”

“He said that he didn’t feel a part of the squad at all and that the guys were getting their jerseys presented but it was just the match day 23 there, which I thought was really bizarre. Surely, everyone in that Lions squad should be there for that historic moment?”

“It should’ve been the best moment of his life being there as a British Lion in New Zealand and you could see that it wasn’t, which I thought was a real shame.”

The sight of Allan Dell being warmed up and then told to sit down was heartbreaking

Russell hasn’t said anything following the tour beyond the usual professional platitudes, but Dell was somewhat more vocal saying “You don’t come over wanting to just fill numbers, we’re professionals, and you come over wanting to prove and to show you deserve to be in this scenario”.

“That’s the bit of frustration, but we understand we came in with a role and a job…But at the same time you want to play, that’s why you play rugby.”

No doubt more players will come out with their version of events over the next few months and years, but you have to hope that in future tours our players will be treated with a little more respect.

What do you think of Jim’s inside revelations? Let us know in the comments below.

What do you think?


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  1. Gatland was always a poor choice after he had demonstrated his predileiction for underperforming Welshmen last time out. This time the Welsh performance in the 6 nations was markedly more underwhelming. He is an autocratic stubborn .and blinkered man with clearly limited ambitions if his satisfaction with a mere draw was anything to go by! GB had a pool of players easily capable of a Whitewash in the provincial matches as well as the Tests had he chosen them in the first place. He even has outlandish ambitions to manage the next Lions tour./ Perish the thought!

  2. I met Finn Russell in the team hotel after the test in Wellington and he knew then he was going home. It was clear speaking with him that all was not well in the camp but he was very professional without saying anything to undermine the squad. Drafting players in mid tour with no intention of them playing was completely wrong. Hopefully Finn and others get a chance to travel with the Lions in 4 years time to play this time.

  3. I think the whole ” Lions” tour/ episode/ thing is best forgotten about and consigned to the bin.
    There were clearly undercurrents further up the management and coaching order which impacted on the selection of Scottish players. Taken from a purely playing standpoint it is difficult to justify the proportion of Welsh players in the squad.
    Hogg’s early on and significant injury clearly impacted on team selection.
    I do think Gatland is a very good coach – his track record proves this – but he may well have issues with Scottish rugby in general.

  4. being a Englishman this might sound daft but a lot more Scots by right should have been in the squad to play in new Zealand they played well and with passion during the 6 nations and to be excluded for there defeat by England the Scots beat Ireland and wales ?

  5. Doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. The Scots had a poor representation in the team in the first place. I wished that the Scots had just told Gatland to bugger off and carried on playing with Scotland.

  6. Sorry Finn & Allan, but we felt snubbed when you chose the Lions over helpin us reach 4th in the world, only to be snubbed yourself, which was inevitable as Gatland doesn’t like us Scots and the Lions have ignored us for decades, my sympathy was dramatically reduced at that point

  7. Jim Hamilton is a highly respected professional and you have to believe that these comments are based on fact and not merely sour grapes for the treatment of the Scottish players who deserved to be in the squad on merit from the beginning but were snubbed by twatland who selected Welsh players some who were mediocre at best,(not all). As for the four he called up “just because they were in the right place” he made a mockery of the whole Lions ethos.

  8. I said it after the squad was announced and after they humiliated Russell and Dell , Scottish players should refuse to take part in this British Lions charade.
    Scots get a token call up to complete the fantasy of an all British team which it isnt.
    Scotland beat both Ireland and Wales in the 6 nations yet weren’t deemed good enough to be more represented than they were. A good team but not good enough individually , find that a shit excuse considering it’s a team game.
    Certainly if I was a Scotland regular and was generally thought of being among the world’s best, I wouldn’t turn out for the British Lions if you paid me. No chance.

  9. Delighted that Big Jim has spoken out. We now have a very good crop of players who performed well at the 6 Nations yet we were the laughing stock once again.
    Scotland should have had considerably more players selected yet we didn’t have coaches on the panel to fight our corner. We shouldn’t need to. Scotland arguably played the most exciting rugby of the tournament yet were shafted again, by Lions politics.
    It’s about time our voice was heard again in the international rugby scene and we consign the ‘losers’ tag to history once and for all.
    The way Russell and Dell were treated was very poor yet they have kept their professionalism and moved on. Credit to them.

  10. The fact that some of the players felt excluded is not exactly difficult to imagine and I anticipate that whilst “Gats” will have his loyal supporters within the playing group, more of the players around the fringes of the touring party will come forward with similar comments. For those players who may still come forward with comments around not feeling a part of what was going on, I don’t think that this will reflect any discontent around “not being picked for the test matches” on their part, they are professionals and knew that was always going to be a possibility or even probability -but being made to feel 2nd class and not part of an elite inner group is something quite different.


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