British & Irish Lions
Hines set to snub Perpignan for Lions
April 29, 2009
Nathan Hines looks set to miss the Top 14 semi-finals with Perpignan © Getty Images
Scotland lock Nathan Hines looks set to snub his club Perpignan in their hour of need in order to take his place among the ranks of the 2009 British and Irish Lions. Hines was one of five locks named in the tour party by head coach Ian McGeechan, but Perpignan's place in the French Top 14 semi-finals may cause trouble for the Australian-born second-row.
Perpignan will be in action on the weekend of May 23-24 - the same weekend that has been set aside for the Heineken Cup final - a full five days after the Lions squad will convene at Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey. Perpignan's fans have been quick to criticise Hines as their side looks for their first Championship since 1955, but he maintains that he has no choice but to accept the honour of becoming a Lion.
"I have a torn heart but what can I do?" he said. "If I am not in London on May 18 I will not be selected (by the Lions). Last year I was a substitute for Perpignan in the play-off semi-final. Imagine if I were to refuse the Lions and the same thing happened to me? No, that isn't possible."
"Representing the Lions is the creme de la creme, the squad of squads, the best players from four countries. It is difficult to explain, it is something all British players want to experience."
Hines believes that the culture divide between French and the home unions in terms of rugby will also have contributed to the fans' feelings of desertion.
"They don't understand the importance of the Lions for a guy like me, but they want USAP to have the best chance of winning the title," he said. "They said to me, 'Why are you going? You have a choice'. Others have said to me they were disappointed but have wished me good luck anyway."