Former All Blacks Coach Says Lions Tour Is Potentially ‘Suicidal’
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The British & Irish Lions are dealing with a potentially “suicidal” itinerary in New Zealand, according to former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry.
The Lions’ schedule sees them face all five of New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchises and also the Maori All Blacks in a gruelling tour schedule.
Henry, who coached the Lions and the All Blacks, believes the Lions will bring a “strong” squad to New Zealand, but fears the itinerary may halt their progress as they look to build momentum through to the first Test.
“There is huge pressure on the Lions,” Henry told ESPN.
“You just want the Lions to do well because it is such a marvellous brand in world rugby and they need to do pretty well to maintain the potency of the brand, because it’s huge for the southern hemisphere countries to have the Lions tour.
“I know from my own experiences how much the players respect getting selected for the Lions. It is the pinnacle of their career. It is massive but they need to do well and I just wonder if the itinerary is suicidal. That is my concern.
“They are playing New Zealand Maori, they are playing the five franchised teams — and those five franchised teams have nothing to lose, no pressure on them at all, so they will fire everything at the Lions and take them on.
“Hopefully they [the Lions] have the ability to overcome that. But really when you tour, you need to ensure some momentum is created by results and you just wonder how they are going to go into the Test series with that itinerary. It is very demanding.”
You can read his full interview with ESPN here.