Brian O'Driscoll warns rugby's superpowers not to meddle with future Lions tours
Irish rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll has warned rugby's superpowers not to meddle with the scheduling for future Lions tours.
This year's party will play 10 matches in New Zealand in six weeks, but the Daily Mirror reported coming tours of South Africa and Australia could be reduced to five weeks, with just two warm-up games and three tests.
O'Driscoll played in four Lions tours and was named captain for the last tour of New Zealand in 2005.
The 38-year-old said it wasn't viable to condense the tours because the team needed time to play together before tackling a southern hemisphere giant.
The Lions played 13 matches touring in 1993 and an astonishing 26 times on their last successful tour of New Zealand in 1971, which included four tests against the All Blacks.
"In my experience from the four tours I've been on, it works because people are able to buy into it. But you need a little bit of time to bed in," O'Driscoll told the Daily Mirror.
"As it stands, there are only four weeks [on tour] before the first test and you have to give the opportunity to get combinations working together so that players can develop that element of telepathy.
"If you're reducing that to [a total tour of] five weeks, [with just] a couple of weeks leading into the first test, it will be more difficult to take on one of the superpowers."
O'Driscoll also believed maintaining tradition was essential for future Lions tours, having played in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand in the famous red jersey.
"Player welfare is vitally important, but some of the traditions of the game need to be upheld and the Lions is one of the really important and special ones, from a player perspective, having been on a few tours."
The Lions, coached by Kiwi Warren Gatland, start their 2017 tour against a New Zealand provincial XV in Whangarei on June 3, before facing all five Super Rugby franchises, New Zealand Maori and the All Blacks in three tests.