Gatland hopes Lions win Kiwi ‘hearts and minds’

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland spoke about connecting with the Kiwi public after the squad landed in Auckland.

Remembering back to the 2005 tour and the controversies that surrounded the Test series, the former All Blacks hooker hopes that 12 years on that the Test series with the All Blacks will not be soured by any controversies.

"There's a little bit of bridge building required from 2005," Gatland admitted to Stuff.

"We want to go a long way to doing those things in the community and hopefully play some good rugby. If we can win some hearts and minds it should be a cracking tour and that's what everyone wants. I don't think anyone wants any controversy to get in the way of a great Test series.

"It's always pretty special coming home. We've had a good trip and we're looking forward to what we know will be an incredibly tough challenge."

The Lions received a traditional powhiri welcome on arrival in Auckland, responding with a rendition of Welsh hymn Calon Lan, and Gatland revealed all of the 41-man squad had been prepared for the cultural traditions of New Zealand.

"It's been part of my job prepping the guys about what to expect culturally. I know from experience in 2011 a lot of teams arrived here very unprepared about what was going to happen. We felt we did a good job with Wales so we've been working hard to make sure nothing is a surprise," Gatland added.

"With the welcome today we responded and sung and we've got a welcome in Waitangi on Sunday after the game so we've prepared for that.

"The guys know if someone gets close to you to give you a hongi it's to embrace it. We're really excited to be here."

The first game of the tour in Whangarei is just a few days away on Saturday, and Gatland admitted that he had not spoken to his son, Bryn, who has been named in the Provincial Barbarians squad.

"I haven't spoken to Bryn for a few days," Gatland explained.

"We normally speak before games. I said to him perhaps you can give me all your calls and moves and he said as long as you let me run through a big hole in the first 10 minutes I'll be happy with that so we had a bit of banter and a joke about that.

"It's great for him – something the Farrells have been through with Andy coaching Ireland and Owen playing for England so they understand."

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