WARREN GATLAND has called on his Australian opposite number Robbie Deans to allow his Wallaby stars to play in the Lions' warm-up games next June.
The tourists will face all five of the country's Super Rugby teams before taking on the national team in three Tests – and the New Zealander wants them to play the strongest possible teams to prepare. The Wales coach is in Australia to prepare for the upcoming series and used the opportunity to encourage his compatriot to release his stars.
On their last visit down under to Australia in 2001, the tourists racked up a number of facile wins over understrength provincial sides before losing the Test series 2-1.
"From the experience that we learnt from four years ago, it's all about preparing for the Test matches, so the harder the games are, the better prepared we're going to be," Gatland told journalists in Melbourne, where the Lions will play Super Rugby side Melbourne Rebels and Australia in the second Test.
"If Robbie will let as many of the Wallabies play in those warm-up games, that will help us prepare. We found in South Africa we were undefeated in the warm-up games, but, because there weren't a lot of the South African players involved, we weren't tested as well as we might have been."
As well as it's importance to the Lions brand, Gatland is desperate to get a series win to finally get one over on Deans, whose Australian team have beaten Wales five times in a row.
"I said to him after the last game we were involved in, with Wales and Australia: 'You're killing me at the moment, winning in the last minute'."