The 53-year-old will take the squad to his homeland at the end of May and has insisted the player’s can still drink back at the hotel
WARREN GATLAND has told his Lions players they can celebrate victory by going on the booze – but he wants them quaffing where he can see them in the early hours in New Zealand.
The head coach is set to slap a 1am curfew on his squad during this summer’s tour to stop post-match knees-ups getting out of hand.
Gatland is planning to suggest his team out after games for a couple of hours after matches – which are evening kick-offs down under – but wants them back to the hotel by 1am where the bar will be fully loaded.
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The Kiwi is desperate that the Lions don’t fall into the same trap as England’s players did during the 2011 World Cup in NZ where his Welsh team had the 1am lockdown.
That scandalous tour was full of dwarf-tossing and drunken car park frolics and Gatland does not want his tourists exposed on social media – so they can drink on but he is choosing the venue.
Gatland said: “For Wales these were all night games so we got back to the hotel at about 11 and we just said the players you can go out for a few hours but be back at the hotel by 1am.
“The bar will still be open if you want to have a few drinks in the bar and I just think we will probably say that to the Lions players.
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“Guys might be out at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning but they might be drinking water or orange juice. It is not the fact – it is the perception that you are out at 3 or 4 – that is what creates the controversy the way that social media is now.
“It won’t be my call but I think the players might say, go out for a couple of hours, no-one is going to mind them having a couple of beers, come back to the hotel, be there at 1am, the bar is open if you want to have a few more beers.
“With a bit of luck we will have earned some respect and won some hearts by the way we have conducted ourselves off the field as well as the way we play.”
Lions’ captain Sam Warburton was also Welsh skipper at that World Cup seven years ago, led the Lions in 2013 in Australia and will become only man to lead the Lions twice after Martin Johnson.
And Warburton is not about to go into killjoy mode as long if his players want to mix with the 25,000 fans who will make the trip.
He added: “I’d never want to keep the boys locked up in a hotel and tell them you’ve just got to focus on the tour. A happy camp tends to be a successful camp.
“The boys have got to have some fun out there and enjoy themselves. But at the same time obviously rugby is always priority no1 and I’m sure they’ll know that.
“As long as you’re responsible I think it will be good to go out and enjoy some of the fans’ company.
“What’s great about Lions tours is that players are accessible and they’re able to engage with fans.”