Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Toulon won't release Jenkins to Lions

06th September 2012 14:22


Gethin Jenkins Toulon camp

No early release from Toulon: Gethin Jenkins

Wales prop Gethin Jenkins will not be given an early release to join the British and Irish Lions squad if Toulon make the Top 14 Final, according to the French club's head coach Bernard Laporte.

The Lions management are on a potential collision course with a number of French clubs over the availability of possible Lions players since the Top 14 Final falls on June 1, the same day as the Lions take on the Barbarians in Hong Kong.

Warren Gatland's team leaves for their tour of Australia on May 27 meaning that even players featuring in the Top 14 semi-finals - scheduled for 24-26 May - will struggle to make it on time.

Welsh stalwarts Mike Phillips (Bayonne), Luke Charteris, James Hook (both Perpignan) and Lee Byrne (Clermont) all ply their trade in France while the Armitage brothers, Simon Shaw, Andrew Sheridan and Jonny Wilkinson are at Toulon with Jenkins.

The Welsh prop is regarded as the leading candidate for the Lions Test loosehead berth but is likely to miss out on at least the start of the tour if Toulon repeat their appearance in this year's final, next June.

"The international window begins at the weekend of June 9. Everything that happens before that is outside of the window," Laporte told L'Equipe.

"As far as freeing up Gethin, in principle, it's a no.

"If he plays in the final, he will leave the day after, on Sunday June 2, but not before. We won't pay a player who has to go and play for the Lions at the most important time of our season.

"There is no specific clause in his contract about it."

Gatland is expected to hold talks with French clubs over the coming days but has not been done any favours by the congested calendar.