Hansen ramps up Lions pressure
- Author: Julie Sanders Jun 11, 2017,
Jun 11, 2017, 20:44
The Crusaders unbeaten run in 2017 has come to an end, as the Lions snagged their second win of the tour - and their first against a Super Rugby team after a disappointing loss to the Blues on Wednesday night.
All Blacks hooker Dane Coles is a near certainty to miss the side's first two Tests against the British and Irish Lions - and isn't especially likely to play the third either, coach Steve Hansen says.
This tour is still in its early stages, but, with just eight games left, victory over the Crusaders - allied to Gatland remembering how to properly wind up the opposition - could turn the whole trip around.
"It's been a tough week, it's been a really tough week; there's been a lot of criticism", said Gatland. It's been challenging to all of us.
'I hope we didn't disappoint too many people with the result.
"Touring with the Lions is very tough and a test of character".
"I have been hammered by the New Zealand media, so it has been a targeted campaign against me personally".
There is no disputing that he is a fine player, and there are plenty of intangibles such as his leadership abilities and influence within the squad that can not be measured by the likes of me but I am not convinced he is the best player in his position and the Lions appear more threatening with other choices.
Runaway leaders the Crusaders boast 14 consecutive wins in Super Rugby, averaging 37 points a match - but the Lions drilled Scott Robertson's side into submission in a potent showing in Canterbury.
After recording a second victory of the tour Gatland is looking for more from his players.
Despite not scoring a try, the Lions kept the free-scoring Crusaders to just a penalty from Richie Mo'unga and Farrell said his side should be given credit for their display.
British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg (Anthony Watson, 20); George North, Jonathan Davies (Jonathan Sexton, 29), Ben Te'o, Liam Williams; Owen Farrell, Conor Murray; Mako Vunipola (Jack McGrath, 62), Jamie George (Ken Owens, 66), Tadhg Furlong (Dan Cole, 66); Alun Wyn Jones, George Kruis (Maro Itoje, 62); Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien (CJ Stander 56), Taulupe Faletau.
"Jordie has been in outstanding form, he has a skillset which is complete and has a great running and kicking game", Hansen said.
Proof at last these Lions can play a bit. "He's class and a proven performer as we saw in the last tour".
There is no room for in-form Chiefs game-breaker Damian McKenzie. We have a mindset that we're never standing still and we're going to face a high-paced, intensity game against the Lions.
"Some of our line speed was excellent and that's just time together".
'We'll play that by ear and see how it goes. "We got up off the floor and pushed. and that gave us some great front-foot ball".
What they lacked in their first two games were the aggression and not surprisingly the cohesiveness but because of the short turnaround time between matches, the coaching team has much to do and time is not a luxury.