â00Probably on Lions tours gone by, a lot of the initial weeks were spent on fitness and now youâ00re taking the fitness as a given,â0 said Hastings, who captained the Lions on their tour to New Zealand 15 years ago.
â00What youâ00re talking about is preparation time. I canâ00t help but think that the players are totally tuned into learning about new tactics, game plans, combinations, lineout calls, back row moves, backs moves and are prepared to learn very, very quickly.â0
With time in short supply in the build up to the 2009 summer tour, the Lions must make the most of the days they do have together before and after they depart for South Africa. Having toured twice with the Lions in 1989 and 1993, Hastings feels that todayâ00s generation are better equipped to do just that.
â00I donâ00t think itâ00s any harder for the players these days. In many respects, the fact that the players of different nationalities are playing week-in, week-out with each other in club sides, means that players will know what the deal is.
â00The fact that they are professional and are able to commit themselves full-time to all the training must also help, undoubtedly.
â00Thereâ00s probably no one more experienced in Lions tradition and history than Ian McGeechan, and I think the fact that Gerald Davies is there as well is extremely important. There is a huge amount of experience and integrity right at the top there.
â00Every single effort will be made to ensure that the team are competitive and I just have a feeling that the lessons have been learned from the last tour and will be put to good use.â0
Gavin Hastings (right) with Andy Irvine at the adidas Lions shirt launch
Despite his faith in the coaching staff and quality of players available to the Lions, Hastings is under no illusions as to the size of the challenge facing the tourists in six months time. To record a series win in South Africa, a country where Hastings never had the chance to tour with the Lions, would be a truly remarkable achievement.
â00Rugby at this level is tough,â0 added Hastings who won 61 caps and scored 667 points for Scotland during an illustrious career which also included 10 appearances for the Barbarians and 66 points in six successive Tests for the Lions.
â00It is a great, great challenge for the Lions. One week youâ00re competing against each other and the following week youâ00re part of a team. The definition of a team is not just a group of players who come together for a few days and then go out and play.
â0You might say that a team works together for many years, as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa do, and thatâ00s a challenge when youâ00re going into the backyard of three of the greatest powerhouses in world rugby. Trying to knock the stuffing out them after a matter of days together is a massive, massive challenge.â0