Uniting the Lions

Gatland's challenge starts with backroom staff, says Dewi

Last Updated: 07/09/12 9:44am

Gatland: must unite the four nations

Stuart, Dewi and Will discuss what Warren Gatland needs to do to win the Lions series in Australia next year...

"That comes from not finding out on day one in which team you are playing. It has to be one in and all in. Everyone who gets on the plane has to believe that they have a chance of playing in the first Test."

Will Greenwood

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The worst-kept secret in rugby union was finally confirmed on Tuesday in London when Wales boss Warren Gatland was officially announced as head coach of the British and Irish Lions for their 2013 tour of Australia.

The 48-year-old, the long-time favourite for the role after leading Wales to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2011, has now fully recovered to take over the reins.

Gatland replaces Sir Ian McGeechan at the helm, having previously been part of the backroom staff for the tour to South Africa in 2009.

"It is a great opportunity for Gatland and for that reason it is a great challenge," said Stuart Barnes on the Rugby Club.

"I don't believe that the Lions are always all about winning, they are not like England, New Zealand or the Springboks where every game is about winning.

"But when you have an opportunity you have got to take it. In 2009 I thought the Lions were heroic but losing to the Springboks in the manner that they did I thought they actually emerged as a bunch of winners.

"The Aussies do not have a great front five - they will be better in a year's time, but there is no doubt that this is a chance for the Lions. They have lost the last few tours, but this is a moment where Gatland can seize the moment and really put Australia to the sword.

"I think that if the Lions go and lose this series then I think it will be seen as a failure."

That man Schmidt

The key to success down under will be down to the way the Lions decide to play and Dewi Morris says that starts with who Gatland picks as part of his coaching staff.

"You have got to get the game-plan right and that means, for me personally, that you have to get the backroom staff right. Shaun Edwards will go, Graham Rowntree will probably go as the scrum coach but there is one guy who I would be dragging over there and that is Joe Schmidt, the Leinster coach.

"I would love to see the Lions play in that Leinster way; it is a winning formula. It is not just wide and wonderful; it is hard graft up the middle. Schmidt is not a yes man and I think he would ask questions of Gatland."

All for one and one for all

The Lions have not won a series since South Africa in 1997, losing in 2001 to Australia, 2005 to New Zealand and to South Africa in 2009. The tactics have differed greatly from tour to tour and Will Greenwood - who was part of the successful tour in 1997 - says it is vital that the Lions keep their unity.

"In 2001 and 2005 the Lions went about it in quite a scientific manner with a split in the teams," explained Greenwood.

"In 2009 I think we all agree it was a fantastic tour, the fans and plans all revel in the togetherness and unity of being thrown together as one.

"That comes from not finding out on day one in which team you are playing. It has to be one in and all in. Everyone who gets on the plane has to believe that they have a chance of playing in the first Test.

"If you have that healthy edge then competiveness thrives in the team. If you remove that, then it is not us against the Australians, it becomes us and against us and Gatland must stop that from happening."