Gatland learning from Henry mistake

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says he will not repeat Graham Henry's 2001 mistake by splitting the squad early in the tour.

Gatland says Henry's past failure was indicating to his players who would play in the Test matches.

And Gatland believes this led to disharmony in the group as half the team were ruled out of contention with the tour not even having started yet.

"The players knew straight away what was the Test side and who was making up the numbers," the New Zealander told BBC.

Gatland, who on Wednesday named his side to face the Provincial Barbarians in the tour opener on Saturday, says each of his 41-man squad is in contention to face the All Blacks.

"Keeping harmony in the squad is paramount," he said. "It's about giving everyone an opportunity.

"It's important these guys feel like they are putting themselves in the shop window and have a chance to prove themselves, and with a little bit of luck are in contention for the Tests.

Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton appear to be in competition for the fly-half spot after Gatland reiterated he sees the Englishman as a "world-class 10", rather than a centre.

Irishman Sexton starts on Saturday, with Farrell on the bench.

"The players are pretty aware about the competition in that position," Gatland said. "Johnny gets a start on Saturday, and the other two [Farrell and Dan Biggar] will get a start in the next two games."

Gatland's son Bryn will start for the Provincial Barbarians at fly-half.

"I spoke to Bryn last night and he's enjoying the week," Gatland Sr said. "We'll catch up tomorrow, and he'll expect to have to make a few tackles on the weekend.

"We haven't spoken too much about the game but he's excited about the opportunity."

Comments