The Lions have been given a licence to enjoy a drink and mix with their fans on the gruelling 10-match tour of New Zealand.

Coach Warren Gatland says there will be no hard curfew, with players expected to police themselves.

The former Waikato stalwart has given his players a loose return-to-hotel time of 1am, and he's happy for them to enjoy the delights of the house bar after that.

Touring England teams in particular have had incident-plagued tours of New Zealand, but Gatland suggested they had been unfairly picked on. Problems included an embarrassing dwarf throwing incident in a Queenstown nightclub during the 2011 World Cup.

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Gatland told the Daily Mail: "You have got to feel sorry for the English in 2011 because there were other teams that did the same (unreported) things.

"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 or whatever.

"It is kind of the experiences from what I learned - that is what I did with Wales in 2011."

A senior players committee will impose disciplinary standards, and captain Sam Warburton backed Gatland up, saying: "As long as you are responsible, I think it will be good to go out and enjoy some of the fans' company.

"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."