British & Irish Lions
McGeechan issues warning to wannabe Lions
ESPN Staff
August 2, 2012
Lions assistant coach Warren Gatland and head coach Ian McGeechan cast an eye over training, Bishops School, Cape Town, South Africa, June 22, 2009
Warren Gatland served as an assistant to Sir Ian McGeechan on the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa © Getty Images
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Legendary Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan has warned that some top players will miss out on selection for next summer's trip to Australia due to the wealth of talent available to the elite tourists.

McGeechan, a veteran of two Lions tours as a player and further five as a coach, believes the Home Nations are well-placed to avenge their narrow series defeat to the Wallabies in 2001 and repeat their success of 1989 but he expects disappointment awaits for many hopeful of pulling on the world-famous red shirt.

The former Scotland, Wasps and Northampton boss has singled out the back-row as potentially a real source of strength for the Lions with Ireland's Stephen Ferris and Sean O'Brien, Wales' Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate, England's Chris Robshaw and Tom Croft and Scotland's David Denton and Ross Rennie among those set to vie for a likely seven squad places.

"I think there are some exceptional players around," McGeechan told Sport360. "Especially in the back row there will be some very good players who won't make the Lions I think because of the talent that's available.

"I think (with) the Lions, the preparation needs to be good and they have the time to develop that and that is important so that they can get to the Test matches as a competitive unit but I think there's some very talented players around and the Lions should go with a very strong squad."

Wales boss Warren Gatland is widely expected to get the nod as Lions coach having served as an assistant on the tour of South Africa three years ago and McGeechan has revealed their relationship has extended beyond that memorable experience that ended in a 2-1 series victory for the Springboks.

"We do discuss things," said McGeechan. "We text and chat on a fairly regular basis so it's like anything, he'll want to establish what he wants to do and if there's any help I can give then he knows I'm always there to support."

McGeechan has already issued a warning to his expected successor by stating that there is no leeway for emotion when it comes to selection. "I think you've just got to see who's playing well," he said. "What you can't afford is to take injured players or players who might have a good reputation but have had a loss of form because the Lions is so instant you have to have it right and work it over five weeks. That's what we tried to do in 2009 and we made some serious progress very quickly because all of the players were involved."

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