British & Irish Lions schedule is 'suicidal' - Sir Graham Henry

Ex-All Black coach Sir Graham Henry
Ex-All Black coach Sir Graham Henry

World Cup winning former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry has criticised the schedule of the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in June which includes 10 games.

The tour kicks-off on 3rd June with a clash against New Zealand Provincial Barbarians followed by matches against Blues, Crusaders, Highlanders, Chiefs and Maori All Blacks before they take on Steve Hansen's men in a three-match series.

Describing the itinerary as "suicidal'', the 70-year-old believes the Lions will have a challenging task in the tour matches leading to the Tests against back-to-back World Champions.

“I just wonder if the itinerary is suicidal. That is my concern," said Henry in an exclusive interview to ESPN.

“They are playing New Zealand Maori, they are playing the five franchised teams -- and those five franchised teams have nothing to lose, no pressure on them at all, so they will fire everything at the Lions and take them on.

"Hopefully they [the Lions] have the ability to overcome that. But really when you tour, you need to ensure some momentum is created by results and you just wonder how they are going to go into the Test series with that itinerary. It is very demanding."

Henry, who coached British and Irish Lions in 2001 also hoped for the team to do well in New Zealand for the betterment of the game.

"There is huge pressure on the Lions. You just want the Lions to do well because it is such a marvellous brand in world rugby and they need to do pretty well to maintain the potency of the brand, because it's huge for the southern hemisphere countries to have the Lions tour.”