Gatland stresses team harmony in Lions selections

Stephen Jones has written a column in the current issue of Rugby World bemoaning the fact that too often coaches dominate the build-up to games with tit-for-tat comments directed at each other. "For us it's every four years, but for those countries it's every 12 years".

The British & Irish Lions have arrived in New Zealand intent on avenging a 3-0 drubbing on their last visit in 2005. Had that been the arrangement, the Lions' farewell dinner on Sunday night would have been sparsely attended!

Lions' manager John Spencer responded to the welcome on behalf of the team, who then replied with a hymn. We don't mind the schedule at all.

Warren Gatland and his band of choir-singing rugby players are the latest band of brothers to land in The Land of the Long White Cloud and attempt to beat New Zealand at their national sport; their national obsession.

"That was great. As soon as we hit the ground we got welcomed. But that's our lot, that's what we have to react to". He dismissed concerns about the team's apparent lack of preparation. They will be sending guys in at him all the time as he's one of the key players in Steve Hansen's juggernaut.

Warburton and Co were treated to a traditional Maori welcome at the airport as well as a heroes' ovation from the travelling Red Army.

The players then surprised their hosts by performing a stirring rendition of the Welsh hymn "Calon Lan", in a response that won over the New Zealand public and media. Choir practice is clearly paying off. Can they send a message to the rugby-mad New Zealand public with a performance that shows they mean business? He should get his first opportunity on this tour against the NZ Provincial Barbarians.




"Obviously the whole focus is on the Test matches, but having been involved in 2013 and having spoken to people in the past, it's about giving everyone an opportunity and keeping harmony in the squad", said Gatland. He remembers when Sir Clive Woodward's team travelled here in hope back in 2005, and how the team he played for and now coaches, Bay of Plenty, gave them a fright in their opening match.

"I'm hoping that's going to happen this time round".

"It really felt like I was chasing it four years ago, I missed the first two games".

The Lions trained at North Harbour's QBE Stadium on Thursday.

"You look at the All Blacks when they've been at their best - the Carter and Smith link - Perenara and Beauden Barrett - that's what the Lions have".

"I thought it was the best Six Nations I've ever seen in terms of the quality of rugby that was played, the defence skills and the attacking ability of especially the Irish and the English".

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