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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 June, 2005, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Brooke warns of Lions derailment
Sir Clive Woodward
All Black legend Zinzan Brooke has warned the Lions tour to New Zealand could "go off the rails" if they lose the first Test on Saturday.

Brooke said Sir Clive Woodward had taken a "massive gamble" in his reliance on England players in the XV.

He told BBC Sport: "This drives a stake into the rest of the squad. If they don't win, it could destroy confidence.

"In fact, if they don't win this game with the gamble Woodward has taken, the tour could go off the rails."

Among the contentious issues in Woodward's team announcement is Jonny Wilkinson's selection at inside centre and the naming of an all-England back row.

"It's hard to make any sense of what he's done there," said Brooke. "You could understand the decision if England had won the Six Nations.

The coaching panel is so crucial to nip things in the bud
Zinzan Brooke

"But he's now created two teams - an England team and a 'rest of them' team."

To date, the Lions have shown a united front in press conferences and interviews, regularly highlighting the tight-knit nature of the squad.

But Brooke said: "If they lose, the players will talk about it behind closed doors. The Welsh guys particularly will get together and talk about it.

"Imagine, for example, how Michael Owen is feeling. He had initially been a contender for a Test squad but was substituted against lowly Southland and effectively told 'you're not quite good enough'."

Despite warning the Lions their tour could go off the rails, Brooke said it was up to the senior players and management to "avoid a mutiny".

"That's why the coaching panel is so crucial to nip things in the bud and make sure nothing festers," he said.

"[Assistant coach] Ian McGeechan has got the experience as Lions coach on many tours. He's going to be a vital cog in the whole thing."


SEE ALSO
Wilkinson wins Lions Test place
22 Jun 05 |  Lions in NZ
Pick your Lions XV
24 May 05 |  Lions in NZ
Lions tour venue guides
18 May 05 |  Lions in NZ
Early history of the Lions
18 May 05 |  Lions in NZ
Fixture list for Lions tour to NZ
08 Apr 05 |  Lions in NZ
Lions player profiles
25 May 05 |  Lions in NZ
All Blacks player profiles
25 May 05 |  Lions in NZ


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