Gatland prioritises team ‘harmony’

British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says he won't repeat the mistakes made by predecessor Graham Henry on the 2001 tour to Australia.

The Lions are set to kick off their New Zealand tour with a clash against the Provincial Barbarians XV in Whangarei this Saturday, and Gatland reiterated the importance of promoting team unity and competition for positions.

'I know the players that were involved with Graham Henry in 2001 – I mean he lost half the team on day one, when he went you know “you guys over here and you guys over there”, and the players knew straightaway “well, that's the Test side and we're just making up the numbers”.'

Gatland has named a powerful side for Saturday's tour opener, and has said he hopes to give everyone in the squad an opportunity before the first Test, with the Lions taking on the Blues next Wednesday.

'Having been involved in 2013, and spoken to people in the past and previous experiences with the Lions, it's about giving everyone an opportunity, and keeping harmony in the squad, that's paramount for these guys at the moment,' Gatland commented. 

'I think it's important these guys are putting themselves in the shop window, that they've got a chance to improve themselves and with a little bit of luck they're in contention for the Tests.'

Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

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Craig Lewis