Lions' back three far from being finalised ahead of Test series
- Author: Julie Sanders Jun 21, 2017,
Jun 21, 2017, 18:58
British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland has insisted his players for Tuesday's clash with the Chiefs can still aspire to "double up" and play Test rugby next weekend - despite all evidence to the contrary.
They supplement a Lions squad depleted by the loss of Stuart Hogg (facial injury) and Ross Moriarty (back injury), with Owen Farrell a doubt for Saturday's first Test after suffering a quadriceps injury in training.
"Ultimately it's about looking after the Test squad".
Gatland said off-the-ball obstruction was endemic in New Zealand rugby and his players had been blocked throughout their five warm-up games, costing them valuable attacking opportunities.
After all the talking, the 12 years of build-up and the war of words between Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen that will undoubtedly intensify over the next five days, it's Test week, and the All Blacks believe they too have something up their sleeve that will prove to counter the British and Irish Lions' biggest strength. "It makes it hard to complete attacking opportunities because there is so much happening off the ball in terms of holding players or subtly holding players".
The back-row battle is set play a critical role in all three Tests, and Kaino admits the Lions' resources in that area are impressive.
"Twelve months ago when we were here with Wales I said, "Whatever you do, don't take a dummy from Stephen Donald", and the first thing he did was throw a dummy and score".
Centre Tim Nanai-Williams, who played for Samoa in their 78-0 loss to the All Blacks on Friday, will start for the Chiefs.
Temporary squad additions Gareth Davies, Kristian Dacey, Cory Hill, Tomas Francis, Allan Dell and Finn Russell, whose call-up has drawn strong criticism, will all warm the bench before leaving the tour next Wednesday.
Andy Farrell confirmed this today, as he said: "It [the injury] seems to have settled down".
"We've raised it with the referee already. The [Welsh] players that came in from Auckland last night and from Australia will be able to fit quickly into that time zone".
The 53-year-old warned his players not to let Donald sell them a dummy on Tuesday, before congratulating the 2011 World Cup victor on his engagement.
Meads, who faced the Lions in 1959, 1966 and 1971 and is regarded by many in New Zealand as the nation's greatest player, was feted in his hometown Te Kuiti on Monday with the unveiling of a 2.7 metre bronze statue in his likeness.
"It's an absolute privilege to play in this sort of fixture - we certainly don't want the young fellas to be scared and go into their shell", Rennie said.
'We just made a decision that it wasn't worth taking that risk.
'We are going to have some quite lengthy debates in terms of finalising that back three.
The Chiefs will be a tough prospect for the Lions.
He added that the move was created to given the Lions 'the best chance of winning the test series'.