After hearing his name read out as part of the British and Irish Lions’ squad to tour New Zealand this summer, Wasps’ centre Elliot Daly was taking a little time to absorb the news.
“It’s hard to put into words at the moment,” he said, “but I’m sure it will sink in later this evening. It’s a hugely exciting moment for me and I can’t wait really.
“Not knowing in advance if you’re in or out gets everyone around the TV and you don’t know what’s going to happen. To hear my name read out was amazing and a moment I will never forget.
“To be involved in a squad containing that calibre of players is massive. I can’t wait to get out there and get involved, but at the same time we still have a big end to the season here with Wasps first and hopefully we can finish the season on a high.
“My focus at the moment is just on trying to do the basics well, to make good decisions on the ball and just to try to influence the game as much as possible. Hopefully I’m doing that and will continue to work on that for the rest of the season.”
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young also gave his reaction to Elliot Daly’s Lions call-up:
“Elliot thoroughly deserves his Lions selection. He has taken his opportunities brilliantly with England, played really well and shown his versatility; playing on the wing for England while playing 13 week-in-week out for us and he’s also played 15 in the past. I know I am biased, but he’s an obvious choice in my eyes, he’s worked really hard for it so I am really pleased for Elliot and his family. It’s a huge honour and very well deserved.
“The important thing for any Lions tour is to get on the plane, once you get on that plane it’s up to you. Elliot’s a really talented player and I think Warren Gatland has gone on record saying that he will give everyone opportunities with three or four games, so he will get his opportunity and that is all you can ask for on a Lions tour. He’s got all the tools to go out there and do a good job and he certainly has the capability to be in that Test team with all of the qualities that he brings to the game.
“He’s only ever going to impress and the more you see of him, the more he impresses you with his skill-set, the pace he covers the ground at and his work rate. He is pretty much the complete package and I’m sure he is going to impress while he is out there. It’s a great honour and we are all 100% behind him and really pleased for him.”
Young also felt for the Wasps’ players who had missed out on selection, saying:
“James [Haskell] being injured when he was, hasn’t helped him sadly. If you look at the form he was in last summer when he was Man of the Series in Australia, Haskell playing at those levels would surely have been on the Lions tour. Unfortunately, he has had to come back from a serious injury and probably hasn’t had enough games under his belt to really force his way in. Still in my eyes he could have been on the plane, but the one that we have got to really feel sorry about and a little bit mystified to be honest, is how Joe Launchbury is not on that plane. Two man of the matches in the Six Nations, up for Player of the Six Nations as well as being nominated England Player of the Season by his team mates, and still he doesn’t get on the plane. As well as that, he’s captain of the team sitting at the top of the Aviva Premiership at this moment in time, so it’s very hard to understand how Launchers isn’t on that plane and very hard to understand what more he could have done.
“I’m not going to knock any of the other players, they are all quality players and there are always quality players who miss out, but it has put a bit of sombre mood around the camp today, because everyone feels for Joe. I’m sure he will keep on playing brilliantly till the end of the season, there are always injuries and I’m sure he must be near the first call-up if there are any. I’m gutted for him and scratching my head a little bit, because I would have thought he was one that was nailed on.
“It’s an exciting tour party going over there to take on the world champions, they are going to be fantastic games and we are all going to watch with our one-eyed Wasp mentality, getting right behind Elliot. If the squad does pick up one or two injuries, hopefully we have a number of players within our camp who can get out there as the tour goes on.”