Wednesday 13 December 2017

'That's a non-issue' - All Blacks legend rubbishes Lions schedule concerns and jetlag 'cop out'

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland Newsdesk Newsdesk

Warren Gatland offered jet lag as a possible excuse for the Lions' sluggish display in the tour opener against the New Zealand Barbarians - but an All Blacks legend strongly disagrees.

Gatland's side laboured to a 13-7 win last Saturday as a number of star players underperformed, and speaking to the BBC, former New Zealand second row Ian Jones said that the coach's jetlag comments were an 'easy cop out'.

"It's an easy cop out to say these guys are jetlagged," Jones told the BBC Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

"If you go down the line of [saying it's] a scratch side, with jetlag, you can use that excuse only once on a tour, ever. You cannot go back on that.

"They have known a long time out they were going to play this game, so they had to go through their professional routines to get them into sync."

Many concerns have been raised about the brutal tour schedule, with the Lions playing their first game just three days after arriving in New Zealand. However, Jones says that given the size of Gatland's squad, the packed itinerary is a 'non-issue'.

"Let's not worry about the brutality of this tour, because they have 41 players," Jones. said

"So that's a non-issue. Don't even worry about how tough this tour is.

"With 15 players you can call it brutal, but they have 41 players remember, and a huge medical staff, so it shouldn't be raised."

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