Warren Gatland insists the Lions will take on the All Blacks 'at their own game'
Warren Gatland has laid down the gauntlet by declaring the Lions will take the All Blacks 'on at their own game'.
The Lions head coach names a 37-man squad to tour New Zealand on April 19 and watched from the stands as Ireland beat England 13-9 to prevent Eddie Jones' team from claiming the world record winning streak for a tier one nation, as well as back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams.
Gatland is urging his players up for selection to 'play some really good rugby' and warned them not to board the plane unless they believe they can beat the All Blacks.
The Lions haven't beaten the All Blacks in a series since 1971 but Gatland told Sky Sports: "This group of players are good enough to do that.
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"We want to go other there and be expansive and throw the ball around and take New Zealand on at their own game.
"We think we've got some real quality players who are capable of doing that."
When quizzed on England captain Dylan Hartley, whose place on the tour is in doubt, Gatland said the Rotorua-born hooker had done fantastic since he was appointed skipper of England, and that you have to look past their disappointing loss to Ireland in Dublin.
Hartley missed the Lions' tour of Australia in 2013 when he was banned for 11 weeks for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in an English Premiership match.
"Look, he's done a fantastic. He's someone that's bounced back from a lot criticism and controversy," the Lions head coach told Sky Sports.
"There's a lot being made of the sin bins, suspensions and the sendings off but I admire that way he's fronted up.
"I went and watched England train a couple of weeks ago and he came up and shook my hand and said 'welcome to training… I better not stay talking for too long because the boys are going to give me a bit of abuse for doing that', but you've got to take your hat off to what he's achieved as England captain.
"They've won back-to-back Six Nations title, they've been involved in that winning record in terms of the number of games.
"So, definitely, he's someone that we need to consider."
The Lions kick off their tour against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei on June 3 before playing all five Super Rugby franchises, the Maori All Blacks and three tests against the All Blacks.