All Blacks defeats to Ireland, England part of Lions coach Warren Gatland's motivational fuel

Lions coach Warren Gatland is using belief and awareness as central themes for his squad's preparation for their tour to ...
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Lions coach Warren Gatland is using belief and awareness as central themes for his squad's preparation for their tour to New Zealand.

Warren Gatland will use the All Blacks most recent defeats to Northern Hemisphere nations to instil confidence in his British and Irish Lions squad ahead of their tour to New Zealand.

Healthy favourites to prevail in the three-match test series starting on June 24 in Auckland, the All Blacks have commanding overall records against their rivals from the north.

However, an upset loss to Ireland in Chicago last year, ending a top-tier world record of 18 straight test wins, sprung renewed belief in the home nations about their prospects against the formidable New Zealand side.

Irish eyes were smiling after they trumped the All Blacks in Chicago last year.
GETTY IMAGES

Irish eyes were smiling after they trumped the All Blacks in Chicago last year.

New Zealand's previous loss to one of the home nations was a 2012 defeat to England at Twickenham at London.

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Gatland indicated he would be using both those matches as part of his squad's preparation for what looms as a stiff test of the best England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland have to offer.

"Ireland doing that in Chicago was pretty special," the Kiwi coach of the Lions was quoted as saying in The Daily Mail.

"To see some of those world-class players be human, make mistakes, show frailties - that gives you self-belief and confidence. As a coach you're always trying to deliver that message. Put players and teams under pressure and they are human - they will make mistakes.

"[Lions assistant] Andy Farrell was a coach with England and Ireland (when they beat New Zealand). Ireland players have won against them and some of the England players won against them in 2012. You've got to go there believing."

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Forwards coach Graham Rowntree echoed Gatland's statements.

A player during of the last Lions to New Zealand in 2005, Rowntree said they had picked "a mix of guys of experience and guys who have done it before, guys who who have beaten New Zealand".

Along with belief, awareness was the other central theme Gatland would incorporate during their build-up to the tour.

The former Waikato hooker is adamant understanding New Zealand, its culture and its obsession for rugby is key to his team's chances of success.

Gatland has even instructed his staff to watch Kiwi film's such as the very successful Hunt for the Wilderpeople and said the squad will visit the Waitangi marae during their first few days in the country.

'It's a really tough place to tour given the intensity and knowledge of the nation," The Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

"It's not going to be like Australia in 2013 when we arrived in Melbourne and people were saying, "Who are the people wearing red jerseys?" They had no idea the Lions were in town.

"Wherever we go in New Zealand, we're going to be inundated by fans who are very knowledgeable about the Lions, the players, the performances and the expectation."

 - Stuff

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