Both players were dropped from Gatland’s initial party after PRL refused to release them – plus Bath’s Luke Charteris – for the game with South Africa in the United States.
The encounter with the Springboks in Washington fell outside World Rugby’s designated Test window, meaning PRL were within their rights to take their decision, but Gatland feels the situation could have been handled better.
“Every other country is playing three games – England are playing four – and we finish our tour a week earlier than them,” Gatland said.
“I understand completely what PRL are trying to do in the autumn when we organise a fourth international. They’re protecting their own competition.
“Players go back during the Six Nations down weeks and I understand that too, but I just can’t understand why they would stop players from joining us a week or two early.
“The club season is finished and the players are going to be back with their clubs early anyway. It’s a sad indictment on the politics of the game.
“I understand and accept completely the views on the other stuff, but this one just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Wales Squad Update:— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) 3 June 2018
Knee injury precludes Steff Evans from taking any further part in the tour. Josh Adams will link up with the squad
Tomas Francis has also been called into the squad as cover for Samson Lee who has been receiving treatment for a lower back injury pic.twitter.com/p3DTXrVe6q
Wales’ games with Argentina fall within the calendar’s window, which runs from June 9-23, and Gatland wasted no time calling up both Adams and Francis.
The arrival of Worcester wing Adams is a boost after Steffan Evans was ruled out of facing Argentina with a knee injury suffered in the 22-20 win over South Africa.
Exeter prop Francis provides tighthead cover for Samson Lee (back), who did not play against the Springboks.
“Josh will be involved for the last two weeks. We’ve got enough cover on the wing to take care of it and both our 10s can play 15 as well,” Gatland said.
“George North can go back to the wing too. It’s a shame for Steff, but it’s one injury not three or four.”
Wales secured a dramatic late victory at the RFK Stadium as Ryan Elias crossed for the match-winning try after earlier efforts from Hallam Amos and debutant Tomos Williams.
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus will have a much-changed team for the upcoming matches with England.
“England will be a step up, but there are 15 of our guys preparing for the games back in South Africa and we know the three-match Test series is going to be tough,” he said.
“In the game with Wales we didn’t have much time to analyse them and there were a lot of new faces on both teams. It will be different with England, they’ve got guys we know well. It will be one proper series, a hell of a series.
“We lost the game with Wales which makes it two defeats in a row and Eddie and England have lost four in a row. We are all under pressure and when you lose for your country, the heat comes on you.”
England‘s three-Test series against the Springboks opens at a venue Jones describes as the “spiritual home of rugby” – knowing that since 1972 no Red Rose team has prevailed in Johannesburg.
Two visits to the South African stronghold with the Wallabies ensures Jones understands what to expect when he seeks to end a four-match losing run on Saturday.
“I think it was 2005 and we had beaten the Springboks conclusively the week before. We came here and I think it was a special occasion for Nelson Mandela,” England’s head coach said.
“We were waiting for the bus, the bus was late, we got a police escort and that was going slower than the bus.
“We got to the ground 50 minutes before the game. We went out, warmed up and then had a tribe going through our warm-up.
“Then we go back in and someone was sitting in the entrance to our changing room in a golf cart – it was Nelson Mandela.
“We couldn’t ask him to move, so had to wait patiently and we went into half-time 15 points down.
“That is part of touring South Africa – you have to be resilient and let the uncontrollables go and get on with it. We have to be ready for everything.”
Ellis Park was the setting for the Springboks’ World Cup final victory over New Zealand in 1995 and one of the sport’s finest moments – Mandela handing Francois Pienaar the Webb Ellis Cup.
“It will be hostile but it’s fantastic and I am so excited about it. In world rugby who do you want to beat? The Springboks at Ellis Park – it is the spiritual home of rugby,” Jones said.
“Everyone who knows anything about rugby remembers that 1995 World Cup final and the change that that had for rugby and the country – as well as the value that had for sport in general.
“To get the opportunity to play against the Springboks in the first Test of a three-Test series at Ellis Park is a special occasion for everyone involved.
“I remember watching the game in Sydney very clearly. My wife and I had just got married and we had a little baby, Chelsea. I remember my wife was doing the ironing and I was watching the game.”
Faultless Argentinian fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta kicked 19 points to guide Castres to a convincing 29-13 victory over Montpellier in the Top 14 final on Saturday.
Castres sprang out to lead 19-6 at the break, Urdapilleta on target with four penalties before converting Julien Dumora’s try, Springbok Ruan Pienaar hitting two penalties for Montpellier, league table toppers at the end of regulation season.
Montpellier hit back with a deserved penalty try in the second period, Urdapilleta knocking over his fifth penalty before Steve Mafi crashed over for his team’s second try with five minutes to play.
Castres coach Christophe Urios had warned his side, which finished in the sixth and final play-off spot, were “laid back but ambitious” and so it proved against a star-studded Montpellier side for whom Pienaar and All Black fly-half Aaron Cruden were unable to dictate the flow of play.
Pienaar missed a fourth-minute penalty, but Urdapilleta made no such mistake a couple of minutes later to open the scoring at a packed Stade de France.
Urdapilleta, capped 10 times by Argentina, restored Castres’ lead with his second and third penalties in quick succession in a close first quarter of a physical match.
Steyn went wide with a penalty effort from his own half, but Montpellier — with 10 of the starting XV foreigners (6 South Africans, and one each from Australia, Fiji, Georgia and New Zealand) — were made to pay for a further indiscretion as the 32-year-old Urdapilleta booted his fourth penalty.
Pienaar pulled one back to make it 12-6, but Castres, with a heroic defence against a flat-footed Montpellier, delivered a hammer blow just before the break.
Boxed into their own 22-metre area, Montpellier botched the line-out with an untidy slapdown that went dead to gift Castres a 5m scrum.
Scrum-half Rory Kockott consequently worked his forwards, Urdapilleta a decoy in the box for a possible drop-goal.
But suddenly Kockott moved the ball wide, centre Thomas Combezou straightened before feeding Dumora, who feigned a pass to scythe past a leaden-footed Fulgence Ouedraogo for a try, Urdapilleta hitting the extras.
Montpellier, undoubtedly fired up by a rocket of a half-time talk from coach Vern Cotter — who lost three Top 14 finals with Clermont, took the game by the scruff of the necks at the start of the second period.
Castres held out as long as they could before first lock Loic Jacquet was yellow carded and then a penalty try was awarded as Montpellier took advantage of their numerical advantage in the subsequent scrum.
Remarkably, Castres then went on to retain possession through a long sequence of plays, running down the remainder of the 10 minutes Jacquet was in the sin bin. It ended with a high tackle on winger David Smith, Urdapilleta kicking his fifth penalty.
The misfiring Pienaar put another penalty wide after a charge by Alexandre Dumoulin, spurning another chance to go for the corner.
That backfired, however, as Castres masterfully worked the line-out maul into touch.
Moving back upfield, Castres’ Tongan replacement Mafi crashed over from close range to drive the nail into Cotter’s hopes, Urdapilleta tellingly having the final word with a successful conversion to cap an outstanding individual performance.