After initially missing out on selection, Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw has been called up to join the British and Irish Lions squad, following the unfortunate withdrawal of England’s Ben Youngs at the weekend.
Youngs, who was was included in the traveling party, announced he would not make the trip to New Zealand after it was discovered that the wife of brother Tom, Tiffany, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The Leicester scrum-half said that the close bond of the family made the decision easier to take. Hooker Youngs himself missed the England tour to New Zealand in 2014, when Tiffany was first diagnosed with cancer.
For Laidlaw, he becomes the third Scotsman to travel with the Lions this year and follows in the footsteps of Mike Blair, Chris Cusiter, Gary Armstrong and his uncle Roy Laidlaw as a touring scrum-half from north of the border.
Naturally, Laidlaw appeared in a subdued mood at an official Lions press conference and paid respect to the Youngs family, before turning his attentions to the forthcoming tour.
Laidlaw on selection
Uncle Roy was himself a Lions call-up to New Zealand in 1983 and went on to play in all four Tests in an ultimately fruitless tour. Nephew Greig will be hoping from a Lions perspective to put an end to the run of three consecutive series defeats in New Zealand.
Head Coach Warren Gatland admitted that Laidlaw, while previously considered, was omitted due to his injury sustained during the Six Nations.
“Obviously, our thoughts are with Tom and Tiffany, and Maisie as well. We’ve known that Tiffany has been sick for a while so from our point of view it was a tough conversation,” Gatland said.
“We fully respect and understand that, and part of the values I’ve always had is as far as I am concerned, family comes first. We know how close they are and we respect that decision.”
Conor Murray is favourite to start the first Test according to William Hill Mobile, but Laidlaw is sure to get a chance in the midweek games, and perhaps a sport on the bench in one of the three Tests.
Gatland on Laidlaw