June 23, 2017

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen questions Lions' tour schedule

01 June 2017, 03:45 | Jackie Morgan

Rugby: Lions on song ahead of 'cracking' All Blacks Tests

Warren Gatland to experiment early on Lions tour

"The Lions, the All Blacks and the Legendary Tour of 1971", by Tom English and Peter Burns, details what is still widely regarded as the high water mark of Lions rugby and remains the tourists' only series win in New Zealand.

That fact of his character rings throughout Brian Moore's courting of his opinion of the incipient Lions tour. Welshman James had never coached his national side, but his innovation proved the backbone of a dogged 2-1 Test series victory.

Played 18 matches, including four tests.

Arrived with confidence after the success of 1971 and 1974 tours but lost test series 3-1 in a tour dogged by bad weather. New Zealand sides do not often come up against teams who play like that. Everything is stacked against the Lions and the first Test is absolutely huge - if they win that one, it is game on.

The last match where the Lions will face any All Blacks before the tests. Barry John posted a record 188 points in a single tour, while Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies, JPR Williams and more combined in devastating fashion to stun the favourites and hosts.

It was another miserable experience for the Lions, losing the series 3-1.

After forging their combinations in the fire of the tour games, Gatland and his coaching team then have to worry about what is coming the other way.

Injuries will play a big part.

In an interview with The Telegraph Gatland seemed to be engaging in some foreshadowing when he attempted to play down the importance of the five "warm-up" games.

"There's a proportion at the moment in New Zealand where it's arrogance and not humility", Gatland said at the time.

"It's a tough place to go", former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings, who led the Lions on their 1993 tour of New Zealand, told the BBC. They must honour the ideal, prove afresh why the Lions matters and ensure that a tradition first established in 1888 continues to matter.

The non-test losses were to Otago, Auckland, Hawke's Bay and Waikato.

A New Zealander himself, Gemmell said he didn't appreciate the full extent of the country's obsession until he left the shores.

"With my competitive nature, the chance to go and challenge yourself against the best team in the world is something I would have regretted saying no to", Gatland said before the Lions flew to New Zealand on Monday.

McLauchlan had the nickname Mighty Mouse and one of my friends told me that he could lift up one end of a small auto.

All Blacks also won the second test in Christchurch 8-0 and fourth test in Auckland 11-8. "Have the Lions got the right coach?" asked one veteran columnist. But that's where the magic, mystique and romance of the Lions kicks in, there is always that element of the unknown about this band of tourists.

The first test will be crucial, when the All Blacks have not had so much time together. They arrive in New Zealand on Tuesday and will have only three days preparation time before their first game on Saturday against a Barbarians team.

Player-manager Arthur O'Brien was a New Zealander studying medicine in London. New Zealand are notoriously hard to beat once they get the rustiness out of their systems in game one and if the Lions do not prevail in Auckland then the series is as good as ever.

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