British and Irish Lions: Warren Gatland and Andy Farrell say autumn internationals prove New Zealand can be toppled on 2017 tour

 
Joe Hall
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2017 British and Irish Lions
Cross your arms if you're not a Kiwi...Gatland poses with his assistants (Source: Getty)

Warren Gatland's British and Irish Lions coaching team for the 2017 New Zealand tour have been given renewed belief that the All Blacks can be toppled by the northern hemisphere teams' performances in the Autumn internationals.

Gatland has reunited with interim Wales coach Rob Howley and Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell, veterans of the 2013 tour of Australia, and added England forwards coach Steve Borthwick as an assistant for next summer's tour.

The Lions travel to New Zealand for a 10 match tour in June and July, featuring a three game series against the No1 side in the world.

Read more: I know how exhausting the 10 match Lions tour of New Zealand will be for players — but none will turn down the chance to go

The All Blacks have not lost at home in 45 fixtures and have won the last four Lions test series, a run stretching back to 1971.

But Gatland and his team pointed to the impressive performances of British and Irish teams in last month's test matches as reasons to believe his team could upset the odds.

"I'm really excited about the quality of the people we've got involved and also about the performances of the northern hemisphere teams in the autumn campaigns," said Gatland.

Farrell, added: "Look at the form of the four nations and what just happened in the autumn series. Scotland had a fantastic win against Argentina, were extremely unlucky not to beat Australia. Wales had their most successful autumn series since 2002 and England are massively on a roll going great guns at the minute and Ireland's had a few good wins as well.

"Northern hemisphere rugby's in a great place."

Howley, who was a coach in 2013 and the 2009 tour of South Africa, said Ireland's adventurous performance against New Zealand in Chicago last month — their first victory in the fixture for 111 years — provided the template for the Lions to follow.

"The intent and ambition will have to be there", said Howley. "When you look at New Zealand you need two or three tries to be competitive. Ireland certainly showed the way by scoring 40 points, five tries, over in Chicago. That's certainly going to be the challenge."

Gatland said he wanted to team up with familiar faces Howley, who was also a coach on the 2009 tour, and Farrell due to their experience of tasting victory with the Lions in Australia three years ago.

"I said from the outset it was important to have continuity because we need to hit the ground running, given the limited preparation time," said Gatland.

"In Rob and Andy, we have guys who understand the Lions concept, have worked together and know how to coach a winning Lions team."

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