Belfast Telegraph

Wounded Lions have got it all wrong: Willie John McBride


By Jonathan Bradley

The greatest Lion of them all, Willie John McBride, believes the current tourists have been given little chance to succeed after they suffered their first loss against Auckland Blues yesterday.

McBride, a key part of the only victorious series against New Zealand back in 1971, says a "proper" tour must be at least 12 games if the concept isn't to be killed off by decreasing preparation time.

The Lions only arrived in New Zealand last Wednesday thanks to the mere one-week gap between domestic finals and the first game of the tour. And having scraped past a scratch side of fringe pros on Saturday, Warren Gatland's men were unable to do likewise against New Zealand's lowest ranked Super Rugby side, falling 22-16.

"It takes you at least seven days to feel right again after going over there," said McBride. "The Lions are only going to be getting there now and they've already played twice. If you're going to have a proper Lions tour, and I don't regard this as a proper tour, you have to have at least 12 or 14 games with a proper build in to the Test matches.

"If the whole thing isn't going to be killed, every four years we need to set other things aside and make sure we can have more games. It's about building a team, building combinations, building relationships, and that takes time for anyone."

Belfast Telegraph


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