Brian Lochore says large Lions squad would spell trouble for Warren Gatland

Brian Lochore played against three different British and Irish Lions touring teams.
HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY

Brian Lochore played against three different British and Irish Lions touring teams.

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland will have to be a good psychologist if he is to lead his side to victory over the All Blacks in June according to Brian Lochore.

The former All Blacks captain said picking too many players would be a big mistake when Gatland announces his squad late on Wednesday night.

The last time the Lions came to New Zealand in 2005, coach Sir Clive Woodward named a 44-man squad and added a further seven players throughout the tour.

Warren Gatland names his touring squad tonight.
GETTY IMAGES

Warren Gatland names his touring squad tonight.

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Lochore believed a repeat of such a large squad could spell trouble for the side. 

"If you have too many on the tour, there is always a few feeling left out on the sideline and they can cause a problem within their teams," he said.

He believed the key to beating the All Blacks was ensuring the players from the four nations form a cohesive unit.

"You would have to be quite a good psychologist [to coach the team]," he said.

"Their biggest problem is working together. If they can make the side work well together, then they will have a very good side. Too often they get here and they don't work as well together as they should. It is never the quality, it is if they gel.

"I think you have to be a special coach to be successful and you don't know until they are here if they are going to be successful and that is the exciting part."

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He said it was positive the side was set to face the five Super Rugby franchises instead of continuing with the tradition of playing provincial teams.

"It was a great series in 2005 and I see this series being even better because they are playing all the Super franchises," he said.

"The fact they are going to play the five franchises is very good. I think it will be a hard tour for them, playing the five franchises, because you can guarantee that they all want to knock them over and they will give it hell. There will be a of softening up process I suspect."

But in terms of predicting the result of the tour, Lochore was more reserved.

"I am not a great forecaster when it comes to rugby. The great thing about rugby is that when you run out onto the field you start exactly the same, how you end is the important part. I think that we will win the series, but whether we win three-zip I am not sure. It depends how they work together."

Lochore was part of the All Blacks' staff as a selector during the 2005 tour and he said his experience with the Lions' fans added to the excitement of the tour. 

"I think one of the best things is that they bring so many people with them," he said.

"The Lions followers are good people. I was with the All Blacks the last time we played the Lions and they were staying at a lot of the same hotels we were staying in and they never caused us any problems. They did a lot of good for New Zealand."

Lochore knows plenty about playing the Lions.

He first played against them as an 18-year-old representing Wairarapa Bush in 1959.

He was All Blacks captain by the time they returned in 1966 and came out of retirement to bolster the All Blacks in 1971.

* Stuff will be covering the Lions' squad naming live from 10.30pm.

 - Stuff

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