Rowntree: This the best Lions squad for 30 years

9:14 AM GMT

British & Irish Lions coach Graham Rowntree expects this summer’s Lions squad for their tour of New Zealand, culminating in three Tests against the All Blacks, to be the best for 30 years.

This will be the third tour for the Harlequins coach having coached under Warren Gatland in 2013 and Sir Ian McGeechan four your previous in South Africa.

“This will probably be the toughest Lions tour for a long time but we are going to assemble probably the best squad for the last 30 years,” Rowntree told The Telegraph. “Forwards-wise we have got a lot of talented lads, good players, dynamic workers and I can’t wait to see them against that All Black pack. We need to be good.

“We are quite capable of winning. If you get to that first Test in the right state of mind, mentally hardened — anything can happen.”

Rowntree was forwards coach for England during the Rugby World Cup, but the now Harlequins coach believes he learnt a lot from the experience, as he embarks on a coaching role that he thought he would miss out on.

“It was an unbelievably tough experience what we went through, probably one some coaches will never go through again — a home World Cup and the pressures of that circumstance. I learnt a lot and I have nothing but pride to see the guys now, the way they are performing.

“They have been through some tough times now with a very similar looking squad that has learnt from those experiences — and look what they are delivering now for England.”

Rowntree added: “I didn’t expect the call. Being out of the international scene and then I wasn’t announced in December [when Gatland announced Andy Farrell, Rob Howley and Steve Borthwick as his assistants]. So I didn’t expect it and it didn’t come, and then all of a sudden a few weeks ago it did come.

“It didn’t take much deliberation. It’s high pressure. I will never forget that pressure in that last series, particularly after the Melbourne second Test, going into the third. But it is still a pressure I crave, that end of the game, and it will be good to be back into it.”

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