Lions have ‘poked the bear’, says Gat­land

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

WELLING­TON: War­ren Gat­land says his Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions “poked the bear” with their sec­ond Test win over the All Blacks and warned against ril­ing up the world cham­pi­ons ahead of this week­end’s series de­cider.

But de­spite ad­vis­ing his play­ers to mind their tongues, the coach could not re­sist his own dig at the world cham­pi­ons’ lack of run­ning rugby in the first two Tests.

“Iron­i­cally, this is the best team in the world and, for two Test matches, they re­ally haven’t stressed us,” he told Bri­tish me­dia. “They have squeezed us and made us give away penal­ties but we haven’t seen the ex­pan­sive rugby that the All Blacks are known for. “We’ve coped with that and, if we can con­tinue to im­prove in other ar­eas, then we are go­ing to see, hope­fully, a great Test match.” He ex­pected a strong re­sponse from the All Blacks to the Lions’ 24-21 win over a 14-man New Zealand in Welling­ton.

“Yes, we have poked the bear but hope­fully the wounded Lion from last week is still re­cov­er­ing as well,” he said.

Gat­land said his play­ers should watch what they say about their op­po­nents in the build up to the third Test in Auck­land on Satur­day. “Hope­fully we don’t give them any am­mu­ni­tion this week and con­cen­trate on our­selves be­cause they will be us­ing any­thing they can to mo­ti­vate them­selves,” he said.

He be­lieved there was room for the Lions to im­prove as they chase a first series win in New Zealand since 1971, par­tic­u­larly the 13 penal­ties con­ceded in Welling­ton.

“I’m happy we got our­selves out of a hole and showed some real char­ac­ter and courage and I’m happy with our phys­i­cal­ity but we’ve got to make sure we don’t give away stupid and soft penal­ties,” he said. “Key play­ers were guilty of that.”

Gat­land was re­laxed about the Lions spend­ing a few days in a South Is­land tourist spot to re­lax ahead of the Eden Park match. Queen­stown was the scene of the in­fa­mous dwarf-toss­ing bar-room an­tics that de­railed Eng­land’s 2011 World Cup cam­paign but Gat­land said he did not en­vis­age sim­i­lar in­ci­dents in­volv­ing the Lions. “These play­ers are true pro­fes­sion­als. They’ll have a cou­ple of quiet beers,” he said.

“On the last two tours we’ve gone away some­where, fresh­ened them up and had a cou­ple of light ses­sions later in the week. That’s worked re­ally well for us.”

The scope for the Lions to get into trou­ble may be lim­ited any­way as Al­ti­tude, the bar where the Eng­land play­ers came un­stuck, closed in 2013. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.