Rugby

Gatland stresses team harmony in Lions selections

2017-06-01 14:01
Warren Gatland (Getty)

Wellington - British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says he will avoid the mistakes of predecessor and compatriot Graham Henry by keeping an open mind on selection ahead of the three-Test series against the All Blacks. 

New Zealand-born Gatland told a news conference in Auckland on Thursday that Henry "lost half of the team on day one" when he coached the 2001 Lions in Australia by indicating at the start of the tour that he had already chosen his test team. 

Gatland said he would give every player in his 41-man squad the chance to stake a claim to test selection in the six matches of the tour which precede the first test against New Zealand on June 24. He said he expected to be in a position to give an indication of his test line-up by the June 17 match against the New Zealand Maori. 

Gatland said team harmony was paramount, and that depended on players being given a fair chance to play themselves into test contention. 

"Obviously the whole focus is on the test matches but having been involved in 2013 and having spoken to people in the past... it's about giving everyone an opportunity and keeping harmony in the squad," Gatland said. 

"I know the guys who were involved with Graham Henry in 2001 - he lost half the team on day one because he went 'you guys over here, and you guys over there' and the players knew straight away 'well, that's the test side and we're just making up the numbers.'" 

Gatland, who guided the Lions on a winning tour to Australia in 2013, said it was important for players to keep "putting themselves in the shop window" for selection. 

Henry, who returned to New Zealand and went on to guide the All Blacks to Rugby World Cup victory in 2011, has recently said he believes he was not sufficiently experienced or prepared to coach the Lions when he took the job in 2001 after a successful tenure as head coach of Wales. 

The 2001 Lions lost the Test series to Australia on a tour which ended in acrimony and internal division. 

The Lions have only won one of their 11 previous tours to New Zealand, claiming the 1971 Test series 2-1.

They will kick off a 10-match tour with a match against the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei on Saturday.

Read more on:    lions  |  warren gatland  |  rugby
NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
Vote

Following their failed bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, should SA Rugby consider bidding in future?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.