Coach Gatland, who also led the British & Irish Lions on their last two tours of South Africa and Australia respectively, unveiled his squad to take on the All Blacks at midday today alongside captain Sam Warburton.
The two previous Lions squad has been 37 players but Gatland is determined to buck the trend and ensure they do not run into fatigue problems during the five-week tour.
"We know how tough it’s going to be," said Gatland, who will be returning to the country of his birth.
British & Irish Lions squad for 2017 New Zealand tour Wed, April 19, 2017
Express Sport runs through the confirmed Lions squad for the 2017 tour to New Zealand
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Express Sport runs through the 37-man Lions squad ahead of the New Zealand tour
"It’s going to be the toughest tour.
"On previous ones the midweek games have been a bit easier but when you look at the quality of opposition we’re going to be playing it will be hugely challenging.
"That’s why we’ve picked a few extra players than we did in 2013.
British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland believes he will need all 41 players in New Zealand
"We just need to make sure we’ve got the depth and the quality to handle the sides we’re coming up against."
The Lions will play 10 games, the first coming against New Zealand Barbarians on June 3 and the final Test falling on July 8 at Eden Park in Auckland.
The three-match Test series against the All Blacks will see the tourists attempt to emerge victorious in New Zealand for the first time in 46 years.
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Sam Warburton will captain the British & Irish Lions for the second time
But Gatland believes he has named one of the strongest squads to leave Britain in recent memory.
“I think that the competition for places is huge,” Gatland added.
"There will be some players fighting for Test spots.
Dylan Hartley, England captain, missed out on selection for the Lions
"There’s no clear No 1, No 2 or No 3 in certain positions
"That’s what makes us excited about the quality of the squad."
British & Irish Lions squad in full
Rory Best (Ireland), Dan Cole (England), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England), Courtney Lawes (England), Joe Marler (England), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ross Moriarty (Wales), Sean O'Brien (Ireland), Peter O'Mahony (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Kyle Sinckler (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Billy Vunipola (England), Mako Vunipola (England), Sam Warburton (Wales).
Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Conor Murray (Ireland), George North (Wales), Jack Nowell (England), Jared Payne (Ireland), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Ben Te'o (England), Anthony Watson (England), Rhys Webb (Wales), Liam Williams (Wales), Ben Youngs (England).