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McGeechan - the Lions will be exceptional

    02 Feb 2017    

McGeechan, a Lion in 1974 and 1977, and Lions head coach in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2009, and assistant coach in 2005, told Scotland Rugby's Scrum magazine, "We have to take the game to New Zealand as much as they will come at us.

"The Ireland loss showed they don't have the strength in depth they once had but when the All Blacks click, they're playing rugby that's two years ahead of everyone else."

On the Lions last tour to New Zealand in 2005, McGeechan said he had been asked for some advice by coach Sir Clive Woodward.

"I told him that making sure the midweek side was right was as important as the Test team, and he came back and actually asked me to do that very role.

"I knew I had something still to give but the tour didn't really go as it should have and that's what ultimately made me decide to take the top job in 2009," he said.

One of the key requirements of coaching the Lions was having an open mind.

"You have to have an open mind as a Lions coach, because you don't know your Test team until a long way down the line.

"You see guys adapt and grow into the role of being a Lion, and that's sometimes where your Test team is born," he said.

Being selected a Lion was the ultimate accolade for Home Unions players, he felt.

"The most pleasing thing is that it's been 20 years since the game went professional and the team that has grown the most over that time has been the Lions.

"It doesn't matter if you get paid for it, or if back in the day you had to take time off work for it, it always comes down to the individual chosen to represent the Lions as well as the emotion that goes with it, and that doesn't change.

"People respect or trust things for the right reasons; now, those are principles I hold very dear and it sums up what being a Lion is all about.

"You never own a Lions jersey, you pass it on to the next recipient and cherish it every moment if you're lucky enough to be selected," he said.

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