wnol.info October 19 2017

Pressure on Lions after squad named for tour: NZ coach

October 19 2017, 11:46 | Van Peters

Coach Warren Gatland today named a 41 strong tour party for the three test tour, which kicks off in Whangarei on June 3rd.

"I'm delighted. Probably a bit shaken at the time but I'm immensely proud now", said Henderson, who was a member of Ireland's 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.

A look at the successful Lions sides will show that a lot depends on the composition of the squad and how the respective home unions performed in the preceding Six Nations.

"They weren't prepared culturally", said Gatland.

"We have to get on with our job, make sure our game is as good as it can be as soon as it can be, and make sure that we've got as much covered as we possibly can".

"I think they'll tell us they will, but I think they will want to win up front first".

"We haven't got a vice-captain, you should have asked me that a few weeks ago, we might have selected one", Gatland revealed.

"They've got a lot of depth right through all the positions".

"I know there are going to be some games (in New Zealand) where it is wet, as it is winter and stuff, but in general the tempo there is going to be out there will suit him down to the ground". Like "Hunt for the Wilderpeople".

"I grew up in New Zealand".

"It gives you an understanding of New Zealand, of the people, the humour, which is a bit different".

"We believe the three we've picked have the mix we need for what we want to do in New Zealand".

It's one thing the coaches believing they can down the All Blacks in New Zealand, it's another the players actually doing so. "But when you are picking individuals you have a process that you go through for months and when you break it all down you've got to make a decision and we're very happy with the 41 we've ended up with".

Lions defence coach Andy Farrell was part of the coaching teams for both victories. A planned comeback for Munster on Saturday, in their Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens, has been shelved after he suffered a setback in his recovery from nerve damage, and Gatland's message was clear on Wednesday: fail to play before the Lions depart and you'll be replaced.

He added on Twitter: "Scotland beat Ireland and Wales in 6N yet we get 2 and they get 23 players!" Put players and teams under pressure and they are human - they will make mistakes.

"That's why we've taken a few extra players than we did in 2013".

"This is the toughest tour", said Gatland, who as a New Zealand native knows the terrain as well as anyone.

The Glasgow full-back said: "I would obviously have loved to have seen other boys going". That's going to be important for us.

England captain Dylan Hartley was not selected, despite leading England to back-to-back Six Nations titles, with Gatland preferring Ireland's Rory Best, England's Jamie George and Wales' Ken Owens as his three hookers.

There is no place for England captain Dylan Hartley, but Wales number eight Ross Moriarty is a surprise inclusion. "They're arguably the form players of the Six Nations".

The current All Blacks are considered the greatest Test team of any era and have the stats to back it up.

"His greatest quality is it is not all about Sam Warburton, it's about the team and putting the team first", said Gatland.

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