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Warren Gatland won't let the Lions repeat past mistakes

Published 10/09/2016

Warren Gatland insists his Lions will not be repeating the mistakes of 2005
Warren Gatland insists his Lions will not be repeating the mistakes of 2005

Warren Gatland insists the mistakes of the British and Irish Lions' last visit to New Zealand that led to fears for the tourists' future will not be repeated by him.

Sir Clive Woodward was at the helm in 2005 when a bloated travelling party consisting of a record 44 players and unprecedented 26-strong management team was thumped over three Tests.

Woodward was criticised for relying too heavily on his 2003 World Cup-winning team despite many of them being out of form, for pre-selecting the Test team and for appointing former Labour political aide Alastair Campbell as a press relations officer.

The Lions fell to their first series whitewash since 1983 and questions were asked over their ongoing viability, but Gatland insists New Zealand will encounter a touring party more in touch with tradition next year.

"There were a lot of Englishmen that went in 2005 and there was a debate about the number," said Gatland, who has been appointed head coach for a second successive tour.

"I think when Clive did that role he went in with a model to try something different. I think there was a bit too much forward thinking.

"Potentially it could have worked, but it's not something I will be employing and I'm sure if Clive looks back there are a lot of things he would change.

"Taking someone like Alastair Campbell... that rubbed people up the wrong way, in New Zealand as well. This will be very different.

"The 2005 tour wasn't the greatest experience and in 2009 in South Africa it was about putting some pride back in that jersey.

"There was a lot of debate after 2005 whether the Lions was dead and was it worth going on tours."

Gatland, himself a Kiwi who played against the Lions for Waikato in 1993, believes the 2-1 series defeat in South Africa in 2009 and subsequent success in Australia four years later restored the tourists' reputation.

"People in New Zealand are incredibly excited about the Lions coming next year," Gatland said.

"They saw 2009 and 2013 and have seen they have done extremely well. New Zealand want the Lions to be strong.

"We have to turn up as best prepared as we can with the right team playing the right style of rugby to win those games.

"There will be no one more disappointed than me if we come away from there losing respect - but I can't see that happening."

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