Lions beaten 22-16 by Blues in Auckland in 2nd tour match
- Author: Julie Sanders Jun 20, 2017,
Jun 20, 2017, 14:29
The Super Rugby-leading Crusaders on Saturday present arguably the most daunting obstacle outside the three Tests.
Incumbent skipper Sam Warburton has again been rested.
Gatland has picked a strong but still experimental lineup, though, to meet a Crusaders team which contains nine All Blacks.
Flanker Sean O'Brien, centre Jonathan Davies and wing George North get their first games on tour here on Saturday. That's an area we will address over the next few days.
Lions fans can judge this for themselves when they take on the Crusaders this weekend, with Alun Wyn-Jones set to captain the side.
"A moment of magic you do get from New Zealand teams, so I'm happy there's an improvement but disappointed we lost the game obviously". "[But] apart from the result, the Blues game was a step in the right direction".
It was, according to Lions hooker Jamie George, who has the honour of starting this match before starting a test for England, the assertion from assistant coach and former England lock Steve Borthwick that the tourists' pack have to get to world class standard in order to beat the All Blacks.
"I don't think it'll be a huge step up from these Super Rugby sides".
The Lions have struggled in their first two matches on Kiwi soil, crawling to a 13-7 victory over the provincial Barbarians in Whangarei before falling 22-16 to the Blues at Eden Park on Wednesday night.
"They're in the infancy of this tour, they'll only get better, and they'll be a good side when the Tests come round", Hansen said. We have to be aware of that, they are playing with a lot of confidence.
"We've been practising for some time and the boys will be looking forward to getting out there for what will be a fantastic occasion", he said.
"They're a quality outfit and we know they can pull something out of nothing".
Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Sam Whitelock (capt), Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Replacements: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Ala'alatoa, Quinten Strange, Jed Brown, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Tim Bateman. Replacements: K Owens, J McGrath, D Cole, M Itoje, CJ Stander, R Webb, J Sexton, A Watson.
Canterbury Crusaders player Scott Barrett, left, joins his teammates during training session in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday, June 8, 2017.
Robertson said that Saturday's match with the Lions will be a special moment in his players' professional careers, and that while the Lions have some of the best global players in world rugby, the Crusaders also have their own collection of world beaters.