Published: 16:26 | 3/6/17

Gatland unhappy with Lions schedule


British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland is unhappy with the preparation time his side have been allowed ahead of the tour of New Zealand.

The Lions laboured to a narrow 13-7 win over the Provincial Barbarians in Whangere on Saturday morning, just four days after the touring party landed in New Zealand.

Gatland says some players have been taking sleeping pills to cope with the jetlag, and questioned why his players were not allowed longer to acclimatise. 

"We'd have preferred to have a week in the UK with the squad and a week in New Zealand," said Gatland. 

"We've known about the schedule for 12 months and it's difficult to change that. I think that the powers that be in four years' time will think about the schedule and the importance of having the right preparation and the right time.

"We ran the non-23 players this morning and they had a real blow-out because a number of them are still struggling to sleep."

Two players, prop Kyle Sinckler and flanker Ross Moriarty, have been treated for back spasms, with Gatland blaming the injuries on a five-hour car journey the pair undertook to undertake promotional duties. 

"So we knew it was going to be difficult in terms of adjusting to that and preparing in such a short period. Ross Moriarty has got a back spasm, and so has Kyle Sinckler," he continued.

"We did community stuff yesterday where the guys have been sitting in cars for five hours, coming up [to Whangarei] and are probably still recovering from the effects of that flight as well."

The Lions face the Blues in Auckland on Wednesday and the unbeaten Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday, and Gatland intends that every member of his 41-man squad will feature in at least one of the opening three matches. 

"I hope so, some players have recovered but others are still seeing the doctor, as are the coaching staff with Andy Farrell down in the team room at 4am this morning despite taking a sleeping pill at 11pm last night to try to get some sleep," he continued. 

"You've got to try and adjust as quickly as possible and we hope over the next couple of days that everyone gets into a cycle so as to feel fresh and acclimatised."

The Lions face the All Blacks in the first of the three-Test series at Eden Park, Auckland on 24 June.

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