May 23, 2018

Gatland ups niggle as Lions win

18 June 2017, 02:00 | Sandy Nunez

JOSEPH JOHNSON FAIRFAX NZ Rawinia Everett returns from injury to the starting line-up for the series decider against England in Rotorua

Rawinia Everett returns from injury to the starting line-up for the series decider against England in Rotorua

Lions coach Warren Gatland suggested his All Black opposite number Steve Hansen is anxious about the potential in the touring side after their 32-10 win over the Maori All Blacks this morning.

Chilly, slippery conditions in Rotorua suited the Lions and this uncomplicated tactical identity, which is founded on claustrophobic defence, astute kicking and gain-line muscle. The Lions' Test team proved here that their scrum could be a serious weapon against New Zealand. But, as Eddie Jones underlined upon taking over with England 18 months ago, success is hard to come by without a.

The Lions comfortably swept aside the Maori All Blacks 32-10 in Rotorua on Saturday, although it paled in comparison somewhat to New Zealand's tune-up 78-0 thrashing of Samoa the previous day.

"I understand the concerns but as I've said it's all about the Test series, it's all about us doing that for the best opportunity for the first Test", Gatland said.

"Some of the stuff people have been saying puts a bit of a dampener on the tour - but that's professional sport now - you've got to live with that".

You'd have to feel sorry for the individual players themselves, given that they have been called up to the Lions squad to widespread disapproval, but the questions around Gatland's decision are entirely justified. It's not anything that is a worry for us but you go, "whoah, he is a little bit more anxious than he normally is".

"Not anything that is a worry for us but [maybe] he is a little bit more anxious than he normally is, saying these comments about us, things he knows about or doesn't know about, that is normally a sign of a man that is a little bit anxious".

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"It was a good performance", he said.

A penalty try and another score from Maro Itoje crushed the Maori spirit, with the home side given precious little sniff of stealing a victory to emulate their predecessors of 2005. It was precautionary leaving them out. Wales flanker Ross Moriarty has been ruled out of the rest of the Lions tour because of a back injury.

Warren Gatland suggested Hansen might be anxious about the Lions, just a week before the two sides lock horns in the first of three Tests in Auckland next weekend.

Captain Peter O'Mahony said the win provided crucial momentum in the Lions' bid to become only the second Lions side to win a series in New Zealand. Does it devalue the shirt?

The All Blacks and British and Irish Lions have both officially shown their hands, securing clinical victories within 24 hours as they gear up for next Saturday's blockbuster first Test at Eden Park.

"Bringing in these players from an identical time zone, who can hit the ground running and step straight in rather than having to adjust following long-haul travel, will help us manage players before the first Test, give us quality training numbers to prepare properly as well as offering us options for selection for the Chiefs match". We've picked up a couple of injuries.

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