McGeechan: Robertson doesn’t know northern players

Sir Ian McGeechan has argued that Warren Gatland should think twice before bringing Scott Robertson into the British & Irish Lions coaching staff set-up.

Crusaders coach Robertson revealed last month that he reached out to Lions head coach Warren Gatland to express interest in forming part of the team’s coaching group next year.

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The 45-year-old missed out on the All Blacks head coach job despite guiding the Crusaders to three successive Super Rugby titles, with the team most recently claiming NZ Rugby’s domestic Super Rugby Aotearoa title with a game to spare.

However, despite Robertson’s proven record of success, former British & Irish Lions coach McGeechan wrote in his column for the Telegraph that the New Zealander doesn’t have an ‘intimate knowledge’ of northern-hemisphere rugby.

‘Robertson would bring something different, undoubtedly. He would bring knowledge of Super Rugby and of South African rugby,’ McGeechan wrote.

‘But he doesn’t know northern-hemisphere rugby intimately. He doesn’t know the players who will be involved intimately. Next year’s tour to South Africa is going to be one of the shortest, most intense tours of all time. There will be such a quick turnaround between the Premiership final and the first match: just one week. It is absolutely vital the Lions hit the ground running. And for that they will need coaches Gats [Warren Gatland] knows and trusts, and who know the players.

‘Gats needs to select coaches for whom the Lions means a similar amount. It’s an honour to coach the Lions. And I believe it’s an honour that should go to northern-hemisphere coaches first and foremost. It’s not as if we are short of good coaches at the moment.

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‘Whoever he picks, I am sure he will be approaching them very soon. I believe he is coming over to the UK shortly for just such a purpose. As head coach you need to be working with the other coaches from a year out. You need time to see and appraise players – in the end, selection is the key element on a Lions Tour. The coaches will share thoughts and be thinking about how to approach what remains one of the most unique and most privileged jobs in rugby.’

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