Protecting mental health will be key for Gatland’s Lions in South Africa | Sport

British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland. (Picture by Dan Sheridan – Pool/Getty Photographs)

Warren Gatland says taking care of the psychological well being of his British and Irish Lions gamers may very well be his hardest problem as they put together for as much as 10 weeks in a coronavirus bubble.

Head coach Gatland introduced his 37-man tour social gathering for the South Africa tour on Thursday, selecting veteran Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones as captain.

Squad members – together with these with no remaining English Premiership commitments – will meet for a coaching camp in Jersey in mid-June and return from South Africa on 9 August.

“The large problem for us is being within the bubble in South Africa and probably having to quarantine once we come again,” stated Gatland.

“In case you add within the two-week camp earlier than we go it may very well be as much as 10 weeks away and in a bubble.

“The rugby aspect takes care of itself so it is necessary we get the opposite stuff proper and take into consideration the gamers’ well-being and psychological well being.

“The rugby’s going to be the simple half. We have to get the opposite stuff proper after which we have an opportunity of acting on the sector.”

The vacationers hope to publish their revised schedule for South Africa subsequent week with the eight fixtures culminating in a three-Take a look at collection towards the world champion Springboks now happening in Johannesburg and Cape City solely, lowering journey throughout the pandemic.

Former Wales coach Gatland admitted the tour would supply distinctive challenges. South Africa is Africa’s worst-affected nation with greater than 1.5 million infections and over 54 000 deaths.

On their return the gamers are more likely to should quarantine in isolation at a government-approved lodge, with South Africa on Britain’s pink record of nations.

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“The protection of the gamers is paramount and the psychological well being of the gamers comes first,” stated Gatland. “Being in that bubble, being away from household, it is going to be about ensuring we keep linked with our households.

“We’ll should preserve the gamers entertained, put issues on for them – competitions, pool, darts, playing cards, on line casino nights, sing-songs, quizzes. We have got to be inventive in that space.

“We’ll in all probability proceed with the singing and choir follow that we have achieved previously. That was profitable for us. These sorts of issues are one thing that we have to get proper.”

British & Irish Lions squad:

Backs (16)

Josh Adams (WAL), Bundee Aki (IRL), Dan Biggar (WAL), Elliot Daly (ENG), Gareth Davies (WAL), Owen Farrell (ENG), Chris Harris (SCO), Robbie Henshaw (IRL), Stuart Hogg (SCO), Conor Murray (IRL), Ali Value (SCO), Louis Rees-Zammit (WAL), Finn Russell (SCO), Duhan van der Merwe (SCO), Anthony Watson (ENG), Liam Williams (WAL)

Forwards (21)

Tadhg Beirne (IRL), Jack Conan (IRL), Luke Cowan-Dickie (ENG), Tom Curry (ENG), Zander Fagerson (SCO), Taulupe Faletau (WAL), Tadhg Furlong (IRL), Jamie George (ENG), Iain Henderson (IRL), Jonny Hill (ENG), Maro Itoje (ENG), Alun Wyn Jones (WAL, capt), Wyn Jones (WAL), Courtney Lawes (ENG), Ken Owens (WAL), Andrew Porter (IRL) , Sam Simmonds (ENG), Rory Sutherland (SCO), Justin Tipuric (WAL), Mako Vunipola (ENG), Hamish Watson (SCO)

Fixtures:

Jun 26: v Japan, Murrayfield (warm-up match)

Jul 3: v Stormers, Cape City

Jul 7: v SA Invitation XV, Gqeberha

Jul 10: v Sharks, Durban

Jul 14: v South Africa ‘A’, Mbombela

Jul 17: in Bulls, Pretoria

Jul 24: SOUTH AFRICA v BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS, 1st TEST, Johannesburg

Jul 31: SOUTH AFRICA v BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS, 2ND TEST, Cape City

Aug 7: SOUTH AFRICA v BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS, 3RD TEST, Johannesburg

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