All Blacks boss Steve Hansen questions Lions’ tour schedule
‘What they are asking them to do is pretty difficult, get here Wednesday, play Saturday’
New Zealand’s head coach Steve Hansen speaking during a press conference. Photograph: Getty Images
Steve Hansen has cast doubt on the British and Irish Lions’ schedule ahead of their three-Test series against New Zealand.
The Lions are due to arrive in the country on Wednesday and play their first warm-up match in Whangarei on Saturday. The first Test takes place in Auckland on June 24th.
However, All Blacks coach Hansen says he would have wanted longer to prepare a tour party overseas.
“You’d want to be there a week at the minimum. It’s nicer to be longer than that. When we tour we have total control over when we leave the country,” he told The Times.
The 58-year-old former Wales coach also suggested the majority of the Lions squad could have flown to New Zealand earlier — most were not required for either the Aviva Premiership or Guinness Pro12 finals.
He said: “If most of them are not playing, what’s stopping them getting on a plane now with most of the squad, for example?
“The option you’ve got is for the sake of the team. We’ll get over there and we’ll see (the rest of) you when you get here.
“What they are asking them to do is pretty difficult, get here Wednesday, play Saturday.”
However, he acknowledges Warren Gatland’s Lions will not be a pushover, adding: “This Lions squad is one of the best to have been picked for a long, long time.
“We assume Warren is not going to have an epiphany and change the way he plays - but we’re only assuming that, we’re not believing it until we see them play.
“With a tour you do get to see the opposition play a bit, so we’ll be able to confirm one or two things prior to that first Test.”