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Sir Ian McGeechan


Gatland's team can succeed with the Lions

Head coach Warren Gatland, has selected a tight-knit trio of England's Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell alongside his attack coach from Wales, Rob Howley.

"It's the first team to come together under the 2013 Lions banner and will be an important anchor point for the entire trip," said McGeechan, the most decorated coach in Lions history. "These are the guys who will create the environment and set the standards. The players now will know just who will be directing them. The clock is beginning to tick for those players. It's an exciting moment."

Gatland, Rowntree and Howley all worked with McGeechan on the 2009 tour to South Africa, a series that was lost, 2-1. McGeechan took the Lions back to basics on that trip, stripping away the excesses of the bloated 2005 tour to New Zealand. Gatland has followed suit in keeping his front-line management team compact.

"The coaches have got to be able to trust each other and be able to be honest with each other," said McGeechan. "The better the chemistry, the quicker it all comes together.

One of the recommendations from McGeechan's end-of-tour report three years ago was that there had to be a strong element of continuity through to the next tour. The home unions have taken heed. Only Farrell is a Lions rookie. McGeechan, though, has been impressed with him.

"If you've got the right character and the right approach, then you're there," said McGeechan, who has spent time in the England camp during the autumn series. "Andy has got that in spades. I wasn't overly surprised by how well England did. They have a lot of good things in place. Their win was not just significant for them; it also was for the Lions. You treasure victories over the All Blacks because they don't happen very often. Players from other countries will respect what England did. Of course, Wales and Scotland players will be disappointed with their own results but everyone can take heart from how England did against New Zealand."

McGeechan reckons that Gatland will have some 70-80 players on his radar at the moment. Selection is a constant process of monitoring and updating, not to mention finger-crossing on injuries. The notion of who should be captain evolves over the coming months.

Gatland will not name his squad until after the 2013 Six Nations championship.

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