Taulupe Faletau ignores critics after impressing in Lions opener

Three Tests against the All Blacks highlight the tour of New Zealand but before that, the 2017 Lions must round into top form across a series of warm-up matches.

WARREN GATLAND SAYS Lions bosses need to examine the amount of preparation time given to the touring side before the next trip to South Africa in 2021.

A recent survey found 78% of New Zealanders polled could not name a single Lions player, but a series win against the All Blacks would make them household names for decades to come.

Eventually Wales full back Halfpenny took it upon himself to bring the competition to a sensational close as he pinned the drone and sent it crashing to the ground.

Gatland now hopes the Lions can catch the New Zealand public cold across a series the home faithful fully expect to claim easily.

The Lions only arrived in the country on Wednesday but the bulk of their squad had been together for more than two weeks, honing combinations and analysing their opposition, many of whom would struggle to be recognised in their own street. So maybe they'll try him there, maybe they won't; I'm not sure.

This, unfortunately for the British and Irish Lions, was a damp squib of a performance in the opening match of their highly anticipated tour.

"I definitely do listen to the players around me, my coaches and my family as well. And again, if I get an opportunity, it's about me taking that opportunity".

19-year-old Fijian born and Waikato Winger, Sevuloni Reece has been named to start on the wing for the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians side that will face the British and Irish Lions tomorrow. "That was great for us we have plenty of footage for us to (use to) work on some defensive things, improve our attack organisation but for a first hit out I am pretty pleased".

"As a Kiwi, if you're critical of New Zealand, how isolated we are, you get absolutely smashed, so you keep your mouth shut".

The Lions captain insisted he has already acclimatised to the time zone and is ready for Saturday's tour opener against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei.

"We were outsmarted and the quality of play, particularly from the Beaver [Chiefs fly-half Stephen Donald], was good to watch for the neutral but not for ourselves", Jones said. But all of their players, from loosehead prop Aidan Ross, to replacement back Joe Webber, will be able to tell of the time they led the famous visitors 7-3 at halftime in the Far North.

"You have your hand on the bat and we're the first group to get out of the blocks and we want to get some momentum".

That trio started all three Tests for Wales against the All Blacks last summer and will support Alun Wyn Jones and Irishman Iain Henderson in the boiler room.

"It was good for me to be in the camp from the start and I really tried to add value to the group where I can".

That was one divisive squad, with much bickering between the mid-week and Saturday teams, and with two English players not mincing their words when writing their newspaper columns.

  • Julie Sanders