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Chris no sure thing for Lions

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland believes the tourists will need to employ the services of a specialist openside flanker if they are to triumph in Australia next summer, potentially denting England captain Chris Robshaw's aspirations.

The Wallabies are blessed with a trio of tremendously gifted number sevens in the form of David Pocock, Michael Hooper and Liam Gill, and the battle of the breakdown will go a long way to deciding the destiny of the Test series.

Gatland, speaking at the adidas launch of the new Lions shirt for the 2013 tour in Cardiff, said: "You need genuine sevens going to Australia. You need sevens who are competing hard on the ball and being effective. It's not just about Pocock - there is Hooper and Gill as well. They are three quality sevens."

Gatland's statement would suggest Wales captain Sam Warburton, who is set to go up against Pocock when the Six Nations champions face Australia on Saturday, may have an edge on converted blindsides such as Robshaw and Sean O'Brien when it comes to selection.

Robshaw has had a difficult time after coming under scrutiny for his decision-making during England's defeats to Australia and South Africa.

Gatland praised the Harlequins' back-rower's leadership, but admitted he is not an out-and-out breakaway in the form of Warburton or Pocock.

He said: "I feel sometimes England have struggled for a genuine seven and Chris has been doing that role.

"People speak very strongly of his leadership qualities and he has come out of Harlequins who have done so well domestically.

"The hard thing is the way the game is played and refereed in the English Premiership, it is dominantly refereed towards the attacking side which often makes it difficult for genuine sevens to get into the game so you can go in there with six-and-a-halves or sixes (in the number seven shirt)."


From Belfast Telegraph