Warren Gatland: England form 'hugely positive' for British & Irish Lions

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British & Irish Lions: Warren Gatland coy on captain selection

English rugby's strength is "hugely positive" for the British and Irish Lions' prospects on their 2017 summer tour of New Zealand, says head coach Warren Gatland.

England have won their past 10 Tests, completing a Six Nations Grand Slam and sealing a first whitewash in Australia.

Premiership champions Saracens also won the European Champions Cup last season.

"It is incredibly exciting. In the last 12 months we've seen a real resurgence in English rugby," Gatland said.

"From a Lions perspective, that is hugely positive."

England's renaissance under coach Eddie Jones, after failing to make it out of the pool stages of the 2015 World Cup, has been recognised at the World Rugby awards.

England and Jones have been nominated for the team and coach awards respectively, while second row Maro Itoje is on the three-man shortlist for breakthrough player of the year.

READ MORE: Wood eager to seize England chance

Lions v New Zealand in 1971
The 1971 series win in New Zealand remains unmatched in Lions history

The Lions play three Tests against the All Blacks - one of the strongest sides in history - on a 10-match tour in June and July next year.

On their previous trip in 2005 - two years after England's World Cup 2013 triumph - they lost 3-0 despite coach Sir Clive Woodward including 20 English players in his initial squad.

The 1971 Lions touring party, containing legends JPR Williams, Gerald Davies and Willie John McBride, is the only one to win a series in the country.

New Zealand set a record for a top-tier Test nation with an 18th consecutive victory by beating Australia in October, a sequence that includes their second successive World Cup last year.

New Zealander Gatland said: "This is going to be a massive challenge - we are under no Illusions - to beat the world champions in their backyard.

"But the message to the staff and the players is 'don't put your hand up to be selected if you don't think you can win a series in New Zealand'."

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