The Lions Fire Back At Sean O'Brien Following Coaching Criticism

Ross Houston
September 22, 2017

Coach Warren Gatland has received high-powered support following accusations he over-trained players on the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

Vunipola told BBC radio show Radio Four Today that Jones, the current England coach, would have done a better job than Gatland.

O'Brien added: "At the end of the day with the squad we had, I think we should have beaten them, 100 percent".

"Looking back there's a bit of frustration we didn't get it right over the whole duration of the tour".

Spencer, who was a player on the winning 1971 tour in New Zealand, said: "This is the first time either during or since the tour that I have heard a player say anything like that".

The Lions drew the three-Test series, but O'Brien said that he felt that the tourists should have won it out. But personally my opinion is that if Eddie Jones went as coach they would have won 3-0.

"I don't know how he would have done it [beaten the All Blacks 3-0], but Eddie would have found a way", Vunipola said.

In 2001, the England scrum-halves Matt Dawson and Austin Healey were fined for critical comments about the management they made in newspaper columns during the Lions tour to Australia but Spencer is not considering disciplinary action.

"Unfortunately some people have focused on what I feel we could have done better instead of what we did well".

"I think there's a lot of learnings to take from the tour in terms of the coaching set-up as well and from a player's point of view with how we dealt with things", he said.

"I think we did almost a similar thing on the last week".

"We did a double session on the Thursday in the first Test week. But it's just about getting that fine balance between players and coaches and making sure the group is ready to rock".

But Lions chief executive John Feehan returned fire, saying: 'We had the best coaching team available and they proved that in what we achieved in New Zealand. Maybe less is more sometimes on a tour like that.

O'Brien was forced from the field at halftime of the third test draw after coming off second best from a Jerome Kaino clear-out.

Speaking immediately after the drawn third Test in July, Gatland said: "Given the schedule, given how tough the tour was, to come to New Zealand and get a draw you've got to be proud of that".

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