Gatland: Lions can knock over All Blacks

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 13:13

REACTION: Warren Gatland believes his British and Irish Lions can trump their series win under him in 2013 and defeat world champions New Zealand.

The B&I Lions face the back-to-back World Cup champion All Blacks in a three-Test series next year.

Gatland's appointment as head coach was confirmed on Wednesday.

The 52-year-old Wales coach - who guided the Lions to a 2-1 series win over Australia in 2013 - faces a monumental task in overcoming his fellow New Zealanders as the B&I Lions have won just one series in New Zealand, back in 1971.

However, Gatland, who was also part of the coaching set-up under Ian McGeechan in the Lions tour of South Africa seven years ago, said unlike most people he fancied the Lions chances of emulating John Dawes' 1971 vintage and beating the All Blacks.

"For the All Blacks a Lions series is the ultimate test, but I'm 100 percent confident that we can go and win in New Zealand," said Gatland, who had the misfortune to be a hooker when the legendary Sean Fitzpatrick was the undisputed number one choice for the All Blacks and as a result was never capped.

Gatland, who has a woeful record as Wales coach against the southern Hemisphere sides winning just two out of 33 Tests since he took the reins in 2008, will finalise his coaching team by the end of the year and he was positively purring at the thought of once again taking charge of the best talent from the four countries.

"The chance to work with the best players from the four Home Nations is a coach's dream and we have some outstanding talent to select from," said Gatland, who has guided Wales to two Six Nations Grand Slams.

"Likewise, there are some outstanding coaches who could potentially be involved and we'll look to announce them in December.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how they and the players get on domestically, in Europe and internationally."

Gatland received the stamp of approval from tour manager John Spencer, who will accompany the coach on a trip to New Zealand on Thursday.

"His international track record speaks for itself and he also understands the essence of the Lions and how to unite four nations in one purpose," said Spencer.

"Warren is acutely aware of the challenges we will face in New Zealand and we're confident he's the right man to lead us to a series victory."

With the contracts of Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and England's Eddie Jones not allowing for secondment to the Lions, officials appeared to have opted for Gatland over Scotland's Vern Cotter without much hesitation.

Gatland will be at the helm for the toughest assignment in the game with a three-Test series against the All Blacks the culmination of a 10-fixture tour that includes five games against Super Rugby opposition and a clash with the Maori.

Adding to his problems is a fixture pile-up domestically.

The Lions' first match in New Zealand takes place early in June, just a week after the English Premiership and Pro12 finals.

With many potential squad members set to be involved in those matches, the Lions coach will have reduced preparation time with key players prior to the Tests.

Mark McCall, Director of Rugby at English Premiership champions Saracens, has labelled the Lions' schedule "ludicrous" and concerns over their fixture programme are compounded by the knowledge they will be up against a superb All Blacks team, even by the exacting standards of New Zealand rugby union.  

Match schedule for the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand:
June 3: v Provincial Union team (Whangarei)
June 7: v Blues (Eden Park, Auckland)
June 10: v Crusaders (Christchurch)
June 13: v Highlanders (Dunedin)
June 17: v Maori (Rotorua)
June 20: v Chiefs (Hamilton)
June 24: v NEW ZEALAND, 1ST TEST (Eden Park, Auckland)
June 27: v Hurricanes (Wellington)
July 1: v NEW ZEALAND, 2ND TEST (Wellington)
July 8: v NEW ZEALAND, 3RD TEST (Eden Park, Auckland)

Agence France-Presse  

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
B&I Lions 0 0 0 0 0
Australia 0 0 0 0 0
Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Force 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0
NSW-Queensland 0 0 0 0 0
Blues 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
NZ Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Maori All Blacks 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0