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Gatland wants Scotland to lift

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Sportal.co.nz     31 Dec 2012     Getty Images

Gatland has expressed his desire for players from all four nations will be involved in his 35-man touring squad, but it is likely Scotland will be well-represented.

Sale lock Richie Gray and Edinburgh wing Tim Visser look to have a place on the plane all but guaranteed, the same cannot be said for their international team-mates.

Although Gatland is not bothered about the make-up of his starting XV, he is hopeful of achieving a genuine mix in his extended squad.

"It wouldn't bother me if I picked 15 Englishmen if I thought they were best equipped to beat Australia," he told the Mail On Sunday.

"I don't think the make-up of the team is the main criteria for getting the job done, although I believe all four nations should have representations in the squad for the morale of the tour.

"That's why I hope that Scotland enjoy a good Six Nations because I don't think I'm speaking out of turn to say representation for the Scots is challenging.

"I'd imagine there will be 35 players made up of a 19 to 16 split between forwards and backs, possibly 20 to 15.

"We'll have three hookers, three 9s, three 10s and an extra prop. It means that in nearly all other positions there'll be two players fighting it out for one spot."

The 2013 tour will be the first time the Lions are led by a 'foreign' coach since fellow Kiwi Graham Henry was at the helm of the 2001 tour of Australia, and Gatland revealed his countryman has already passed on some advice.

"Graham told me that coaching the Lions gave him some of the most valuable lessons he ever learned, lessons that he put to good use when he won the World Cup last year for New Zealand.

"He also boosted my confidence by saying how I'm miles more experienced than he was at this point. He was appointed Lions coach 18 months after taking over in Wales. I've been coaching in the Northern Hemisphere for the vast majority of the last 24 years.

"New Zealand try to claim me as a Kiwi coach but, while I was a Kiwi player, I'm most definitely a Northern Hemisphere coach, and very proud to be so."