McGeechan and Davies reflect on Lions preparation trip to

At the end of their 12-day recce trip in preparation for the 2009 Lions Tour to South Africa, Tour Manager Gerald Davies (pictured)  and Head Coach, Ian McGeechan, gave their thoughts on the visit.

Davies remarked on their trip that had taken both he and McGeechan the ‘length and breadth of South Africa and the purpose of the visit is to see exactly where we are likely to stay, where we are likely to play, where we are going to train and we have had a terrific welcome wherever we have been, South Africa has been very generous and at times very patient with all the questions that we had to ask and wanted to ask. It has been a terrific trip for us and we will be putting everything into plans in the coming weeks”.

McGeechan added “I think it was key as it was the first time that Gerald and I have been able to put our Lions hats on and just look at the requirements and talk through all the things that we want as Manager and Coach and that build up that understanding that has been very useful and very enjoyable because it has been an operational visit my intention is to come back when the Tri Nations are on and have a more rugby focussed visit on South Africa themselves. We hope then to have everything in good shape and most of the decisions made by late Autumn”.

Was the rugby planned for this trip or co-incidence?
IM: No it was planned, you can only see so many hotels without wanting to see a rugby match (laughter)! So it was quite a good split and it was always the intention to get a first view because looking at them live is far better than watching on the television and so to have that opportunity early on was quite important particularly playing against the Welsh side as well; it was a good first view.

What did you think of the Springboks?
IM: Quite impressive, they have got some talent there. It’s obvious that that they have got that mix between experience and young players coming through. I was impressed with the coaching team. I know Dick Muir, he’s been to Wasps and looked at how we do things at Wasps and I also spoke to the South African coaching team as well whilst I have been here and got involved with the Welsh coaching team, so from my point of view it’s been brilliant.

Have you had the chance to look at the other nations playing overseas?
IM: Yes I have watched the games. I think that it is very important from our players point of view that the next six or eight months are key. Top players are coming in and have been very impressive in their first international seasons and I think that it is quite important quite a few of them will be in their second international season but on the way up. I think that in 2005 we had a number of players who were just coming off their best performances and so I think that it is going to be quite key to see how these players are this forthcoming season and what they are like because I think that it is important that you have players coming to a peak; South Africa have and I think that they have got that balance and I think that the same applies to the Lions what you want is that you want experienced players who are at the very top of their game and you want younger players who are definitely progressing fast and if we can get that then I think that we’ll have a very good combination.

Is it a shame to be missing Newlands, Cape Town?
IM: There are four great test venues in South Africa, we had three of them the last time we were here and Loftus missed out that time, it is the other way round with Newlands in 2009. That is part of what we have got to plan for ten, eleven months out from the tour which is what we are trying to just the timing of when we move around and how we do it.

What do you think that the impact of the ELV’s will be?
IM: I have said it before, to me the key word is experimental, we’ll see how

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