Warren Gatland’s bitterly disappointed Lions players got together over a few beers to drown their sorrows after missing out on Test selection.
Those who came up short when Gatland announced his matchday 23 to the players spent Tuesday evening together as they came to terms with one of the biggest disappointments of some of their careers.
But the group set themselves a midnight curfew at their hotel and have made a huge impression on Gatland with their contribution to a series of feisty training sessions which are providing perfect preparation for the Test side.
Gatland said: “I’m incredibly impressed with how tight these guys are. We’re just trying to make sure we get a balance right.
“We said to the non-23 on Friday night that if they wanted to have a few drinks then they were able to do that.
“They went and had a couple of drinks and put a 12am curfew on themselves. That’s good for them.
“It’s important for them to get together and have a bit of solidarity. It’s tough. It’s the end of such a long tour and the biggest challenge is keeping everyone focused. I said to the guys not in the 23 that they’re only an injury away or a performance away from being involved.
“One of the reasons initially for keeping the squad numbers a little less than previous tours was because that, even if you were under a bit more pressure with guys having to double up in the lead up matches, you were well aware that everyone was not too far away from the 23, making sure they stay focused.
“In the past, possibly when it comes to Test week, you probably get two or three whose tour is over and they probably haven’t had the same sort of focus.
“At the moment everyone’s on the same page and this group of guys have been absolutely brilliant. The message to the players was that it’s not about the 15 or the 23, it’s about the whole group. Going back to the UK and Ireland and saying they were part of a winning Lions Test series.”