Warren Gatland plans to give plenty of the British and Irish Lions squad a chance to play and has criticised Graham Henry for his coaching in 2001.


Gatland’s squad landed in New Zealand on Wednesday ahead of a 10-match tour, including a daunting series of three Tests against the All Blacks.

The 53-year-old intends to involve as many of his players as possible to keep them motivated, questioning the approach of his fellow Kiwi when the Lions visited Australia in 2001.

Despite winning the series opener, Henry’s team went down 2-1 against the Wallabies.

“Being involved in 2013 and having spoken to people in the past and previous experiences about the Lions, it’s about giving everyone an opportunity and keeping harmony within the squad. That’s paramount for these guys at the moment,” Gatland told a news conference on Thursday.

“I know the players that were involved with Graham Henry in 2001, he lost half the team on day one because he went, ‘you guys over here and you guys over there’.


“The players knew straight away that’s the Test side and we’re just making up the numbers.”

Gatland wants his squad to understand places in the team are up for grabs, beginning with Saturday’s clash against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians.


“I think it’s important these guys feel like they’re putting themselves in the shop window, that they’ve got a chance to go and prove themselves and with a little bit of luck they’re in contention for the Test,” he said.

“Our first focus at the moment is the first three games, giving everyone a chance, looking at a couple of combinations because that’s important with the lack of preparation time.

“Then, we’ll start thinking a little bit more about the Saturday games and possibly the Maoris [Maori All Blacks] and then towards the first Test.”

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