It’s im­por­tant that Lions are ‘able to adapt’

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

WELLING­TON: The Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions are hop­ing the “chaos” of the train­ing ground will bring about the im­prove­ment they need to beat the world cham­pion All Blacks in the three-Test se­ries, backs coach Rob How­ley said yes­ter­day.

The Lions face the Blues in their sec­ond tour match to­day and will be des­per­ate to put down a marker af­ter a laboured 13-7 vic­tory over a New Zealand Bar­bar­ians side made up largely of semi-pro­fes­sion­als last week­end.

How­ley, an as­sis­tant coach on the last two Lions tours, said the key to the suc­cess of the cam­paign would be in get­ting the play­ers to the point where they were able to make good de­ci­sions on the fly.

“It’s a work in progress,” the Welsh­man told re­porters in Auck­land. “While we’re ob­vi­ously still work­ing on our foun­da­tions, we want to have a frame­work whereby play­ers have the abil­ity to play what’s in front of them.

“Rugby is dic­tated by speed of ball, by num­bers in the de­fen­sive line, and it’s im­por­tant we are able to adapt and play what we see.

“One thing which the play­ers have en­joyed, we call it rugby chaos, 15 against 15, it’s re­ally un­struc­tured. We’re all aware of the pace of the game in the south­ern hemi­sphere, and it’s im­por­tant we get up to speed as quickly (as) pos­si­ble.”

How­ley said it was not just hav­ing to play a game four days af­ter land­ing in New Zealand that had led to such a poor per­for­mance in Whangarei, sug­gest­ing the wet weather and a cou­ple of other fac­tors had played their parts.

“Some­times en­thu­si­asm, the ex­cite­ment of wear­ing that Lions jer­sey, some­times that brings anx­i­ety...,” said the 2001 Lion. “Some of it is down to that and some of it is straight­for­ward un­forced er­rors. And we need to im­prove on that.”

The Lions, who are aim­ing to give all 41 mem­bers of the squad a chance to play for their place in the Test side, will put out a com­pletely dif­fer­ent start­ing side to­day at Eden Park.

“We want to be clin­i­cal, we want to be re­lent­less in our pro­cesses, we want to be ruth­less be­cause in a cou­ple of week’s time we’re play­ing the most ruth­less team in world rugby,” How­ley said. “We have to keep hold of the ball and put the de­fence un­der pres­sure... It’s ob­vi­ously go­ing to be a step up, we’re well aware of that.”

Mean­while, All Blacks cen­tre Sonny Bill Wil­liams safely came through train­ing yes­ter­day and will line up for the Blues against the Lions to­day.

Wil­liams has been side­lined with a knee in­jury and Blues coach Tana Umaga brack­eted him with TJ Fa­iane in his team pend­ing the cap­tain’s run.

“Sonny has come through re­ally well,” Blues as­sis­tant coach Alis­tair Rogers said.

“He came through yes­ter­day pretty good. When he cooled down last night he was feel­ing re­ally good and he looked very fresh out there this morn­ing.” – Reuters

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