Lions schedule 'a concern' for coach Gatland

2017-04-25 13:28
Warren Gatland (Getty)

London - British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has admitted the upcoming tour schedule is a worry as they prepare to face New Zealand.

The Lions land the Wednesday following the Premiership and PRO12 finals and face the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei on the Saturday.

Before the first Test on Saturday, June 24 they will run out for a midweek fixture against the Chiefs, which also is a big concern for Gatland.

"I said in my report that it comes down to three words: preparation, preparation, preparation," Gatland told The Guardian in an interview.

"There are a number of stakeholders involved and they have to understand the future of the Lions and that things should be done properly.

"Last time we had a week in Hong Kong and arrived in Australia with five days to spare, which feels a lifetime compared to arriving on the Wednesday with the first game that Saturday.

"Everyone wants more time but what would be reasonable would be to have a week together with the squad in the UK or Ireland before you travel and arrive seven days before your first game."

Looking ahead to that first Test against the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland, Gatland added on the preceding midweek fixture: "The ideal scenario would be not playing a match in the week of the first Test."

The Lions boss also felt it was an issue that needed rectifying on future tours.

"I hope the Lions are able to negotiate with the stakeholders, the unions and the clubs. It might mean bringing Europe and the finals forward a week so we can have more warm-up time," he said.

"It is a challenge to bring players from four countries together and gel them quickly, which is why you need both preparation time and five warm-up matches."

Fixtures for the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand:

June 3: v Provincial Union XV, Whangarei

June 7: v Blues, Auckland

June 10: v Crusaders, Christchurch

June 13: v Highlanders, Dunedin

June 17: v Maori All Blacks, Rotorua

June 20: v Chiefs, Waikato

June 24: 1ST TEST v NEW ZEALAND, Auckland

June 27: v Hurricanes, Wellington

July 1: 2ND TEST v NEW ZEALAND, Wellington

July 8: 3RD TEST v NEW ZEALAND, Auckland


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