Li­ons must use wounded pride to

Irish Examiner - Sport - - RUGBY - Si­mon Lewis

Steve Hansen has been talk­ing a good game through­out this Bri­tish & Irish Li­ons tour to New Zealand and the All Blacks coach is en­sur­ing his team does not take to­mor­row’s sec­ond Test as a fore­gone con­clu­sion fol­low­ing their se­ries-open­ing vic­tory.

The book­mak­ers, pun­dits and, it seems, many among the vast army of Li­ons sup­port­ers spend­ing small for­tunes to watch this once-in-adozen-years’ odyssey be­lieve the 2017 se­ries will be over by the time their brethren back home start con­tem­plat­ing brunch to­mor­row.

Hansen prob­a­bly does too but on the few oc­ca­sions he has presided over a los­ing All Blacks side, and of course the most re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence was at the hands of Ire­land in Chicago last Novem­ber, he has seen the de­ter­mi­na­tion among the van­quished to right some wrongs and he is pre­par­ing his play­ers for a Li­ons on­slaught in Welling­ton af­ter their 30-15 Eden Park win last Satur­day.

“Qual­ity teams don’t lie down. They stand up and get counted,” Hansen said. “Los­ing hurts. It sucks. It’s not a great idea, and it comes with a lot of pain, so you don’t want to do it, es­pe­cially when you are a qual­ity team, be­cause you are not used to it.

“I think they will come with ev­ery­thing they’ve got, and we need to be pre­pared for that and bring ev­ery­thing we’ve got to match it.

“The last Test was a beauty, and with a lit­tle bit more luck and fin­ish, they could have eas­ily won the Test match. They know that, and they will be com­ing here with a do-or­die at­ti­tude. We have got to front up on Satur­day. It’s okay do­ing it once, we have got to do it again.”

Hansen’s coach­ing ri­val War­ren Gat­land has de­manded his play­ers up their game af­ter be­ing out­mus­cled in the scrum and at the break­down by Kieran Read’s team last week, call­ing on the Li­ons to use their wounded pride and front up this time around, hav­ing failed to do so in Auck­land.

Yet while the heads, hearts, and bod­ies of this Li­ons team are un­doubt­edly pre­pared for the ex­tra ef­fort re­quired to go toe-to-toe with the world cham­pi­ons, who them­selves are al­most guar­an­teed to im­prove on last week’s per­for­mance, ac­tu­ally turn­ing round that deficit in break­down in­ten­sity from one week to the next is an­other mat­ter.

“Yeah, it’s dif­fi­cult,” tour cap­tain Sam War­bur­ton said af­ter he was named Test skip­per at Peter O’ma­hony’s ex­pense yes­ter­day.

“We all ac­cept it and re­alise that it’s prob­a­bly the first game on tour that we were beaten in the bat­tle at the break­down, from a phys­i­cal­ity point of view. So, we’ve ac­cepted that, but that’s just go­ing to fuel the fire for this Satur­day. So if any­thing I think be­fore the game on Sat- ur­day and af­ter the cap­tain’s run (yes­ter­day), it’s prob­a­bly go­ing to be hav­ing to try and bring the boys down a lit­tle and make sure we’re keep­ing clear heads.

“Be­cause for this game, while it is must-win and there’s lots of games which are must-win, but this is ac­tu­ally must-win, the mo­ti­va­tional lev­els are go­ing to be ex­tremely high, so if any­thing it’s try­ing to keep the lads com­posed and make sure we ex­e­cute the game plan as good as pos­si­ble be­cause mo­ti­va­tion is not go­ing to be a prob­lem.” Gat­land has brought in War­bur­ton in a bid to restore par­ity at the break­down af­ter the Li­ons were con­sis­tently sec­ond best in their col­li­sions with the All Blacks at Eden Park, ced­ing the gain­line through­out as the likes of Brodie Retallick, Jerome Kaino and cap­tain Read bashed through a thin red line. War­bur­ton has been tasked with chang­ing the dy­namic, along­side fel­low new­comer Maro Itoje, who re­places Ge­orge Kruis at lock, although the cap­tain un­der­stands a bal­ance has to be

Pic­ture: In­pho

Alun Wyn Jones and Mako Vu­nipola at Li­ons squad train­ing in Welling­ton.

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