Wellington - British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland is
"clutching at straws" by using Ireland's upset win over the All
Blacks as motivation, his opposite number Steve Hansen said on Thursday.
Unveiling his 41-man touring squad in London, Gatland said
his players took confidence from Ireland's 40-29 victory in Chicago last
November, which showed the world champions were "fallible... like everyone
Gatland has selected several players from that match and
England's 38-21 win over the All Blacks in 2012 for the upcoming tour to New
He has also Andy Farrell as defence coach, who was part of
the backroom staff both times the New Zealanders were defeated.
But Hansen warned his fellow Kiwi Gatland not to read too
much into the Ireland result, pointing out the All Blacks comfortably won the
return fixture 21-9 in Dublin.
"I'm pretty happy that our guys got some confidence
beating Ireland in Ireland," he told Radio Sport.
"You're clutching at straws if that's how you are
selecting teams. You pick players who can do the job you want them to do and
play the style of game you want to play.
"They've got enough good players there. I don't think
it's about picking teams who beat us in Chicago."
Hansen expressed surprise at England captain Dylan Hartley's
omission from squad, saying it indicated Gatland was set to use rival England
hooker Jamie George as an impact player off the bench.
He said Scotland would feel "aggrieved" at only
having two players in the touring party but said the overall squad had depth
and looked "pretty good".
"It's very much a Gats-type team... using the big ball
carriers up front and the midfielders to carry. The selections reflect
that," he said, calling Sam Warburton's appointment as captain "a
Hansen questioned Gatland's assertion that the Lions had an
edge in goal-kicking, saying their percentages may be superior but the All
Blacks' kickers were proven performers on the big stage.
"It's all about how you deal with the pressure in the
big moments," he said. "Our guys in the big moments have done us
proud, Beauden (Barrett) and Crudes (Aaron Cruden)."
He said the All Blacks were used to the psychological burden
of playing as favourites but it would be a new experience for some of the
"They'll be expected to win this Test series, it's one
of the best Lions teams that's been selected for a long, long time," he
"People will have high expectations and those players
will feel that, how they deal with it will be interesting to see."
Hansen also dismissed criticism of the Lions gruelling
schedule, which includes fixtures against all five New Zealand Super Rugby teams,
the Maori All Blacks, as well as three Tests.
While Hansen's predecessor Graham Henry has labelled the
itinerary "suicidal", Hansen said any tour of New Zealand was always
going to be a challenge.
"We've got good rugby teams, I'm not sure why everyone's
so surprised it's going to be a tough tour," he said.
"Gats would have okayed that. If you're going to come
to New Zealand you're going to play good rugby players."