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Monday, 16 July, 2001, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Support grows for Lions revamp
Ben Cohen
Cohen has backed up the comments of his team mates
Sport Online speaks to former Lions coaches, Dick Best and Geoff Cooke, in the wake of the series defeat against Australia.

The Lions are now licking their wounds after defeat in the final test in Sydney on Saturday and the analysing will no doubt go on for several weeks.

But no one can argue that in the end the tourists were beaten by a better team.

The reasons for the defeats in the second and third Tests lay solely with what happened on the pitch.


The experience has destroyed my confidence.
Ben Cohen
The outbursts of several players, while unprofessional, can not be blamed on the results.

But it has become obvious that it was not a happy tour. Rumours of player walk-outs and arguments with the tour management leaked within the first few weeks on the tour.

Matt Dawson and Dan Luger have both spoken out about the rigorous training sessions and the fact that the midweek side never got the chance to impress.

Others had their concerns but decided not to speak out, perhaps they were better advised.

England winger Ben Cohen agrees it was not a happy time, particularly for the self-styled 'Dai's Driftwood's'.

"There was never enough preparation for our games and we would spend the first half of them just trying to find a rhythm," he said.
Dick Best
Best: unrest was inevitable

"The experience has destroyed my confidence.

"We were never allowed to show what we were capable of because we were only ever used as training tools for the Test team.

"But that is the reality of it, the focus must be on the test side as the tour is only seen as successful if you win the tests," he added.

Cohen, like others, feel that changes should be made to prevent such problems in the future.

Coach Graham Henry too, has virtually admitted that the situation was not ideal and has called for a a much smaller touring party and fewer games in future.

"Then you can have maximum preparation for each game and everybody would feel they'd had a fair go," he said.

Dick Best, a former Lions assistant coach on the 1993 trip to New Zealand agrees that the situation needs to be addressed by the four nations committee.


It is inevitable that when you take a squad of 37 players there will always be unrest because not everyone would get a fair crack at the whip
Dick Best
"We recommended after similar problems in 1993 that there needed to be changes, including the possibility of taking a second team of coaches," he said.

"There is just not the time to spend with a Wednesday side when you have a test the following weekend and these guys were well within their rights to feel they had been left behind.

"But it is inevitable that when you take a squad of 37 players there will always be unrest because not everyone would get a fair crack at the whip."

Best too is not surprised that there were concerns about the training schedule.

"The moment is was decided to reduce the tour to six weeks it meant condensing the preparations, and it that ensured the tour would be based on the training ground," he said.

But Best insists that the players should have been better advised to keep their grievances within the confines of the camp.

Geoff Cooke, who was also part of the management team in 1993, agrees.

Geoff Cooke
"The players know before they go that there is a chance they may miss out on selection and I'm afraid that some players don't react to the situation very well," he said.

"I think those players have to take a look at themselves."

And Cooke believes that the outbursts will no doubt have ramifications for future tourists.

"It has surprised me that they have been allowed to have columns - it would never have happened in amateur days," he added.

"I think in future they will end up with contracts that will prohibit them from having columns.

"It has been the most disappointing aspect of the tour but I don't think it had a marked effect on the performances.

"It was an unnecessary distraction and created a worse impression of the tour than was actually the case.

"At the end of the day the only thing which may have changed the result was if the players had not had so much rugby leading up to the tour - that is what needs to be addressed for the future."


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08 Jul 01 | Lions Down Under
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