Murray must prove fitness for Lions - Gatland

Steve Hansen has dismissed Gatland's claims that Ireland's Soldier Field win over the All Blacks will benefit the Lions

Steve Hansen has dismissed Gatland's claims that Ireland's Soldier Field win over the All Blacks will benefit the Lions

"They weren't prepared culturally", said Gatland.

"They have some very talented players and for Warren it is not his first time he has done this and it is also not the first time for Sam Warburton, " Mains said.

The Ireland and Lions legend talkSPORT: "If I was selecting a Lions team tomorrow, for me Jamie George would be the obvious choice at hooker". It's all about how I am playing. Like "Hunt for the Wilderpeople".

Chris Robshaw found himself surplus to requirements for Australia in 2013, and now Hartley is out of the squad for New Zealand in 2017. "But unfortunately that's the way Lions selections go".

"If you can understand New Zealand, the intensity of the place and the opposition it makes us better prepared and it's those small things that will make us better on the field".

England beat the All Blacks
38-21 at Twickenham in 2012 while Ireland pulled off a stunning 40-29 victory against Steve Hansen's men in Chicago last November.

"Because I didn't feel that same way in January, that was the main reason behind that with Wales".

"You try to talk about how they are human, they are capable of making mistakes, they do have frailties if you put them under pressure", said Gatland.

"We have the most creative set of backs in the British Isles and he's ignored some of them".

"If you look at the quality of the teams we are playing midweek, it is going to be hugely challenging".

"If we maybe had a bit more influence we could have had four or five players".

"This is the toughest tour".

Hansen is expected to rely largely on his established squad, for the opening Test at least, though Meads (below) says some of those who featured for the All Blacks previous year need to be wary. That gives an idea of what their expectation is. "I've got a bit of catching up to do, but it's exciting and I'm going to push everyone as hard as I can".

Bookmakers, however, still expect the All Blacks to win the series, 12 years after they whitewashed a Clive Woodward-led Lions squad laden with English World Cup winners. He said: "They should be nervous because there are fresh players coming through".

In a peculiar twist of fate, it was Gatland who opted against renewing Payne's contract during his time coaching at Waikato, before the now Irishman pursued greener pastures in the north.

In fact, the Lions have won just one Test series against the All Blacks in 11 tours - a 2-1 triumph in 1971. Gatland said that Murray would have to prove his fitness ahead of the Lions tour.

"He knows his form has got to be good enough to be selected. They're different players and if we'd left out Courtney we'd be asked the same questions".

Only Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour have made the British and Irish Lions' summer tour of New Zealand while 23 players in total from Ireland and Wales - who both lost to Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations - join 16 England players.