I once bumped into Warren Gatland with Mils Muliaina on a bridge in Darling Harbour (and no – I have no idea why they named it after a Rupert in Blackadder).
Warren was coaching the Chiefs at the time and they were in Sydney to play the Tahs.
We didn’t have much of a chat – it consisted of me going “Alright?” and him nodding back.
Not exactly the Gettysburg Address I know, but I felt there was a real connection.
If he happens to be in Turnip Town any time soon I’d fancy a bit more of chin wag to give him some invaluable advice for the Lions tour. Ever wonder why invaluable means the same as valuable and not the opposite? Of course it might not in this case.
I’m going to put it here in case I miss him and he has to pick it up by reading the blog.
‘The whole is greater than the sum of the parts’
I know what you’re thinking – what the fuck is he on about?
Let me explain – The Lions are up against it –
The schedule is ridiculously tough – including all 5 Super Rugby Franchises, the Maoris and three tests in less than 6 weeks
As many as a third of the squad are likely to be playing in finals 7 days before the first game in New Zealand
The full squad will not get together until they are all in NZ
This is always the case for the Lions and touring New Zealand is the toughest of all. The Lions haven’t won a series there since 1971 – their only win ever.
On 11 tours the All Blacks have won 29 matches to the Lions 6 – 3 games ended in a draw.
In 2005 it was 3-0
The odds on winning the series (or a game) are not good.
If I was the coach (and I know – thank fuck I’m not!) I would look to build a team with combinations that were used to playing together. There is virtually no time for the players to bond – much less learn new attack and defensive strategies.
This might well mean leaving out the best player in a position and to rely on familiarity of what the blokes next to you on the pitch are going to do.
I believe that combinations and balance are key – not necessarily simply picking the best in each position.
There is little time to look at tour form and it will be important to base selection – at least at first – on form from the 6 nations and club.
You can now see why my name hasn’t come up in the speculation about the coaching team – because, as Harro will say when he reads this “you don’t half talk a load of bollocks, knob head!”
Perceptive bastard is Harro!