Lions boss John Feehan defends coaches after Sean O'Brien criticism
By Mark Crellin
Last Updated: 21/09/17 11:20pm
Lions chief executive John Feehan has hit back at criticism of the coaching staff who masterminded the 1-1 draw against the All Blacks in the summer.
The Lions were widely praised after the series against the world champions, having responded to losing the first Test by winning the second and then securing a gutsy draw in the third.
However, Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien told the Off The Ball podcast this week that he thinks the Lions would have secured a series win, were it not for their coaches.
"To be honest with you I'd be pretty critical of it," he said. "I think we probably should have won the tour and we probably should have won it comfortably enough.
"I think there's a lot of learnings to take from the tour in terms of the coaching set-up."
However, Lions boss Feehan said in response: "I said all along that I think we had the best coaching team available and I think they proved that in what we achieved in New Zealand.
"To draw a series with the All Blacks, who had not lost a Test match at home for eight years was a remarkable result, and Warren (Gatland, head coach) and the coaches deserve huge credit for that.
"People will always have their views on what could have been done better but the fact is that, against all the odds and with limited preparation time, this squad became only the second Lions team in history to either win or draw a series in New Zealand in 13 attempts.
"That achievement cannot be underestimated."
O'Brien was particularly critical of the preparation ahead of the first Test, adding: "I think the first week we definitely over-trained on the Thursday - maybe the coaches were panicking a little bit about getting the information into us and the workload."
The Lions management appear to partially concede this point and altered the training regime accordingly.
Gatland said at the time: "When we looked back on the tape of the first Test, our forwards were a bit heavy-legged.
"We did a double session on the Thursday in the first Test week.
"I don't think it was just the double session, it was the accumulation of three to four weeks of no days off, travel, the games, the trainings, walk-through, everything the coaches do, the meetings. So we consciously lightened up last week."
The Lions have also pointed out that they made 15 clean breaks in the first Test, the most by any Test team in New Zealand since 2012.