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British & Irish Lions
Gatland ready for Wallabies mind games
May 1, 2013

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says his rugby tour squad will be ready for any "psychological warfare" that comes their way in Australia.

Asked if he was expecting mind games or attempts to influence the referees from Australian officials or the media, Gatland said it was part of professional sport.

"The best thing about Australia is their desire to win," said Gatland after naming his 37-man squad for the three-Test tour starting in June. "They're incredibly competitive and we've got to be prepared for anything; media-wise or anything from coaches or former players to potentially have an influence.

"(Former Australian Rugby Union chief executive) John O'Neill in the past has been a master of that and has had a big influence in the way he's done that. That's part of our job to do something about covering off every eventuality that potentially could happen, including psychological warfare in terms of the media."

New Zealander Gatland came in for criticism in February when he was reported to have said picking a large number of English players for the Lions tour would bring more pressure on the squad.

He claimed on Tuesday his comments were taken out of context and said the reaction to the article "rattled me for a few days".

"It was a good example of what things may happen for us on tour and how we've got to guard against ourselves and be prepared for what might happen in Australia," he said.

The Lions squad features 10 Englishmen and nine Irishmen but is predictably dominated by Gatland's Six Nations-winning Wales squad. Gatland didn't feel the presence of 15 Welsh players in the squad, captained by young Wales star Sam Warburton, would create problems, saying it was simply a reflection of form.

"The last two tours have been no different - 2009 originally started with about 15 Irish players, because they'd won the grand slam," Gatland said. "In the last two years Wales has been really successful ... and 2005 I think there was about 20 English players that went."

The large Welsh contingent will have to overcome a poor record against Australia, with the nation losing all of their eight Tests against the Wallabies in the past two years.

© AAP
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