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Sir Ian McGeechan

Lions

Lions preparation damaged by domestic schedule

According to Sir Ian McGeechan, the preparation time for the Lions squad and for Warren Gatland, his successor as head coach, have been damaged by a "short-sighted and unfair" domestic schedule.

Sir Ian has been the Lions head coach four times, and is well aware of the challenges Warren Gatland faces. After the 2009 tour, he recommended that this year's trip to Australia should include a longer period between the end of the club season and the squad's departure. Instead, Gatland will have even less time this time around.

The finals of the Aviva Premiership and the RaboDirect Pro12 fall on May 25, with the Lions squad meeting the next day and flying out 24 hours later.

"They could have had a couple of midweek domestic matches during the season and finished a week earlier.

"It's extremely disappointing that they did not take up on that.

"They have to be big enough to do these things properly. The Lions is the biggest thing in a player's mind. It's the biggest rugby event too in the eyes of spectators.

"There will always be time constraints. But give Warren a week before departure. That would not be perfect but it would be fair.

"What we've done instead is build in unfairness. He faces an even bigger challenge in that regard than I did in 2009. Does he leave with one hand tied behind his back? Yes, I believe he does."

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