British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has been accused of making a big mistake in leaving England skipper Chris Robshaw out of his squad for the series with Australia.
The Harlequins forward’s omission from the party, who are currently in Hong Kong before heading Down Under for three Tests against the Wallabies, was one of the major surprises when the touring squad was named.
And Gatland’s decision raised the eyebrows of former England skipper Phil Vickery, who went to both Australia and South Africa with the Lions.
Known as Raging Bull for his ferocious and unrelenting performances at prop, Vickery said: ‘It is a tragedy for Chris not to be in the squad.
‘I just hope [England and Lions assistant coaches] Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell fought hard for his inclusion and weren’t bullied during the selection process.
‘Not going on tour is a punch in the face for Chris as he has been in outstanding form for England and Harlequins over the past two years.’
Despite his concern over Robshaw’s absence, Vickery – who made 145 appearances for Gloucester and 54 for Wasps –believes the Lions can win this summer’s series.
‘I am really excited by their chances with Warren at the helm,’ added the 37-year-old.
‘Every single game will be tough as the Aussies will want to prove a point against the cream of northern-hemisphere rugby with the Lions coming to town.
‘The Tests will be won by the team who dominates at the breakdown and the Lions have a very strong pack which I believe can overpower Australia.
‘I just hope every player wearing that famous red jersey does themselves proud.
‘They should not leave an ounce of energy on the pitch and should know that when they looks at themselves in the mirror the next morning.
‘It is going to be tight and extremely tense, and I think it will go down to the final Test, but I think the Lions can win the series 2-1.’