June International Tours

McGeechan to name 60 strong British and Irish Lions squad

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British and Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan has spoken about his plans for selection that he hopes will win him another Test series in South Africa.


McGeechan will name a provisional squad of 60 in January but anyone not making the initial squad will still have a chance to play their way into the squad.


The Head Coach will then spend the rest of the season cutting the squad down from 60 to around 35, keeping in mind players who show good enough form to be in the squad but may not have been included in the original squad.


Speaking at the official launch of the Heineken Cup at Murrayfield yesterday, the Wasps director of rugby told PA Sport: “If someone’s outstanding in the Six Nations and they’re not part of that 60, we’ll be flexible.


“It’s just an indication of the sort of players we feel are in form at that point.”


McGeechan added that he wants access to his potential players well in advance to the tour as the the domestic season ends almost as the Lions tour starts.


“When you’ve got a preparation week before we go away which includes the Heineken Cup final then we’ve got to make the most of the time,” said the Scotsman won a Lions series when he last went to South Africa as Head coach in 1997.


“What I’m trying to do is be as time effective as I can with the players that are likely to be involved.”


McGeechan says that he will be keeping a close eye on both the Heineken Cup and the November Internationals to identify who makes the cut for the 60 man initial squad.


He also said that he would give players until the last possible moment to play their way into contention for the tour.


“What I’m not doing is selecting a Lions squad straight after the Six Nations because I think there’ll be six or seven players that we’ll probably want to see more of post-Six Nations,” he said.


“It’s relatively easy to pick 25. It’s the last 10 that often make the difference on a Lions tour. I think it’s important to give ourselves time to really look at those final selections and those key players.”


McGeechan also issued a warning to Lions aspirants by saying that if they fail to play at the same standard throughout the season they will be dropped.


“If you are aspiring to be a Lion then you know you don’t accept poor performances,” he said.


“It’s that consistency on a Lions tour that, ultimately, if you’re going to do anything, will make the difference.”


McGeechan added that he will not entertain any notion of a quota system to ensure that all the home nations are represented in the squad.


“Getting the best group together, character-wise as well as talent-wise, is the thing,” he said.


“It’s going to be, with all the background knowledge, the best group of players we think can come together and be successful.”


McGeechan knows that the task of beating South Africa in South Africa is an enormous task given that that International sides these days are much better prepared than sides who are put together just weeks before a test.


Combinations in national sides are formed at provincial and club level and then transferred to the national stage. It is rare in International sides in the professional era that two players have not played with alongside each other at some stage in their career whereas the Lions often select players who have hot had the same luxuries.


Speaking of the difficulty of the task ahead McGeechan joked, “It’s always been impossible!”


“That’s why the Lions have only won four series in 130 years.


“The only thing that happened in the past was you’re on tour for four months so you’ve got eight weeks to prepare for the first Test. That’s just out of the window now.”


McGeechan also added that there would not be a warm up match ahead of the tour as there was in 2005 when the Lions played Argentina at the Millennium Stadium before flying

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