Re­lax­ation over as Lions fo­cus on third Test

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS - QUEEN­STOWN:

Af­ter three days spent re­lax­ing in the South Is­land re­sort of Queen­stown, the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions have re­sumed in earnest their prepa­ra­tion for Satur­day’s third and de­cid­ing rugby test against New Zealand.

The Lions’ de­ci­sion to travel to Queen­stown af­ter winning last week­end’s sec­ond test and lev­el­ing the three-test se­ries was thought to be sur­pris­ing by some com­men­ta­tors who thought the tourists should have trav­eled straight to Auck­land to be­gin their third test build-up. But the Lions say their time in Queen­stown, where they jet-boated and bungy-jumped, were im­por­tant in al­low­ing play­ers to recharge their bat­ter­ies be­fore the chal­lenge of Satur­day’s de­cider. As­sis­tant coach Neil Jenk­ins said Wed­nes­day the break the Lions play­ers had en­joyed in Queen­stown was im­por­tant at the end of a long tour and near the end of a much longer sea­son.

“It’s nice to have a cou­ple of days off and feel re­freshed and ready to go,” Jenk­ins said. “The boys have been flat out for seven weeks. They have been non-stop on this tour let alone the sea­son they al­ready played so I think it’s good for the guys to have a bit of down time.” Jenk­ins was adamant the Lions’ de­ci­sion to re­lax at the start of test week was not an in­di­ca­tion they un­der-es­ti­mated the task ahead of them or took it lightly. The Lions’ win over the All Blacks last week­end was their first in a test in New Zealand since 1993 and they now have the chance to win a se­ries against the All Blacks for the first time in 46 years.

He said the All Blacks have been stung by their 24-21 sec­ond-test loss and would be for­mi­da­ble on Satur­day as they try to stave off a se­ries de­feat and their first loss at Auck­land’s Eden Park since 1994.

“Look, we know what’s com­ing,” Jenk­ins said. “They’re in­cred­i­bly good, we know that. Very rarely do they lose and very rarely do they lose at home, so ev­ery­thing is on the line ... we know how hard it’s go­ing to be.” Hooker Jamie Ge­orge, who has been in out­stand­ing form through­out the test se­ries, said the Lions play­ers are “fully aware of what’s at stake.” “I think it’s go­ing to be a fan­tas­tic oc­ca­sion on Satur­day and one again that we’ll never forget,” he said. “(But) we can’t get car­ried away with the emo­tional side of the game. We’ve got to make sure that phys­i­cally we are on it, men­tally we are on it, we know our stuff and we can go into the game with clear heads and re­ally at­tack it.”

Ge­orge said the Lions would have to sharply im­prove their dis­ci­pline in the third test af­ter con­ced­ing 10 kick­able penal­ties in the sec­ond, of which seven were con­verted by All Blacks fly­half Beau­den Bar­rett.

“We made it very dif­fi­cult at times with our dis­ci­pline,” he said. “I don’t think many teams can say they came back from 18-9 down in those con­di­tions to win the game so we’re re­ally happy with that.” — AP

QUEEN­STOWN: Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions loose for­ward Taulupe Fale­tau, right, passes the ball dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion in Queen­stown, New Zealand, yes­ter­day. —AP

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