Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Gatland sees the need for change

Warren Gatland says the home nations need to do everything they can to help the Lions succeed in future

Warren Gatland has declared the British and Irish Lions' unique place in the rugby landscape must be safeguarded, but stressed that some changes have to be made to the structure of future tours.

A first series victory since 1997 was completed with the 41-16 rout of pre-match favourites Australia in the third and final Test of an epic struggle between the rivals.

"The Lions are something that we need to preserve for the modern game. It's special and it has been a privilege for me to experience it," he said.

"Australia was tougher than it was in South Africa four years ago because the game's becoming more and more physical. It's tough to put two games together in a week, so maybe you need a break in between games to rejuvenate yourself.

"It's important that the Lions and home unions get together to agree adequate preparation time. The season needs to be adjusted so that we can spend a couple of weeks in the UK preparing properly. The Lions need to be given the best possible chance to be successful for the future.

"New Zealand is harder to tour from a logistical point of view. It wasn't until I left there that I realised what a difficult country it is to tour because getting around is more challenging."

Gatland is open to the possibility of being at the helm when the elite of British and Irish rugby visit his homeland in four years time.

"There's a lot of water to go under the bridge before 2017. You get opportunities in life if you're part of successful environments and teams," he said.

"Winning a couple of Grand Slams with Wales and reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup has given me this opportunity.

"I'm grateful for the chance and if it came up again then it's something I might look at."

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