McGeechan wants to ensure players have the best chance to impress
British & Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan has scrapped plans to announce an extended preliminary squad for this year's tour of South Africa.
The original plan was to name a list of 60-65 players next week, before naming a final squad of about 35 in April after the RBS Six Nations.
McGeechan plans to work closely with the coaches of the four home nations.
"Selection of the tour party is the most important element of the tour, as far as I am concerned," said McGeechan.
"I want to ensure we have every chance to make the best selection decisions."
Each player from the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish national squads - plus any additional players outside those groups - will receive a draft Lions contract.
That contract then becomes "live" if the player gains final squad selection in April.
McGeechan said he would be consult the national coaches in order to determine the players who are "showing the form and application" to make the trip to South Africa.
The Lions' 10-match trip to South Africa from 24 May includes Test matches in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
And McGeechan wants to give players the best chance to earn selection.
"Becoming a Lion is the pinnacle of a player's career - it is a unique experience and nothing compares to it," he said.
"We want to ensure that all players continue to see they have a chance of playing themselves into contention for the final squad that we will be announcing in April, as planned."
The Lions have also confirmed a list of support personnel who will assist the senior management team in South Africa.
This includes physiotherapist Phil Pask and masseur Richard Wegrzyk, who were part of England's 2003 World Cup backroom staff in Australia.
Lions tour manager Gerald Davies added: "The next step in terms of tour planning is a final pre-tour visit to South Africa later this month to finalise many aspects of the tour such as accommodation, internal travel and training facilities.
"As a management group, we are under no illusion of the challenges that we face when we travel to South Africa this summer.
"We will be facing the world champions on their home soil, and therefore it is crucial that we are comfortable with all aspects of the tour logistics and that we have a suitable environment in place to allow the players to perform at their maximum."