Sabato, 20 Aprile, 2019

Sam Warburton fit to lead British and Irish Lions against Highlanders

Pammachio Corsino | 25 Giugno, 2017, 12:23

The Warren Gatland-coached Lions can expect another bruising test of their credentials with the three-match series against the All Blacks looming on the horizon.

The Kiwi press have been doing their best to upset Warren Gatland and for me, their criticism is pure stupidity.

"Guys will feel a little rushed to show their cards and all their best form, but guys must remember there are still two more Tests and a midweek game to prove yourself after that".

"And that's been challenging".

"We knew the challenge ahead of us". We've got to remember the first Test is not the be-all and end-all.

"It took the Crusaders some time to get to grips with many things on the night, and that difference in attitude was one of them", Henry added.

"I have been hammered by the New Zealand media, so it has been a targeted campaign against me personally", Gatland told talkSPORT.

No mean feat by the Lions to keep tryless a Crusaders side who've played 14 and won 14 so far this season, and who are Super Rugby's second-highest try scorers.

Gatland believes the Lions can now push their tour onto new levels after securing a hugely-important and morale-boosting victory.

Five-eighth Owen Farrell slotted four penalties, including three in the first half.


The Lions were lacklustre in their first two games - including Wednesday's shock defeat to the Auckland Blues - but Saturday's performance is likely to make the All Blacks sit up and take notice, two weeks from the opening Test.

The Lions face the Maori on June 17, a clash in which Gatland has already admitted he could well field a starting line-up that would closely resemble his Test XV.

The tourists will be captained by Sam Warburton who has been nursing an ankle injury.

Sexton and Farrell were thrust together prematurely on Saturday after Stuart Hogg's facial injury and a blow to the head for Wales centre Davies.

Nowell will be looking to improve on what was a disappointing display against the Blues and he has shown how risky he can be for the Chiefs, and if Joseph and Henshaw can find space in the middle of the park - perhaps running off Stander's shoulder - they should test the Highlanders in defence too.

Billy Vunipola's withdrawal from the squad due to a shoulder injury was billed as a serious blow to the Lions chances before they had even got on the plane. "We got up off the floor and pushed. and that gave us some great front-foot ball".

Hogg was injured in an accidental collion with Conor Murray. Things are looking up for the Lions, and who'd have thought that after the loss to the Blues? I wouldn't say we're back on track, I don't think we were off track.

"The players are really happy with the way the tour is progressing and how we're developing as a team".

But a victory born of a huge defensive effort and the nearly unerring boot of Farrell - the one kick he missed looked from TV pictures to have gone over - will give them a major boost as they head to Dunedin to face the Otago Highlanders on Tuesday.

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