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Warren Gatland believes British and Irish Lions can try their luck against Springboks |  Rugby Union News


British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland spoke to media on Wednesday after appointing a surprise test-match squad to face South Africa; Gatland discusses the importance of offense, physical condition, and also how it was the most difficult test selection he has had

Last update: 07/21/21 4:23 PM

Lions head coach Warren Gatland spoke to media on Wednesday after being selected for testing

Warren Gatland insists he selected a dangerous British side and the Lions to create and complete the tries needed to topple South Africa in Saturday’s crucial series opener at Cape Town Stadium.

Alun Wyn Jones will lead Gatland’s men in battle four weeks after dislocating his shoulder to make a 10th consecutive appearance in the Tourists’ Test, a record in the professional age.

Around him are a host of surprise picks, with the Lions opting for form over reputation in a team selection that indicates a desire to play with pace and an ambition to sidestep the Springboks stifling defense.

Full-back Stuart Hogg, winger Duhan van der Merwe, center Elliot Daly and scrum-half Ali Price beat more established rivals to start in the backline with instructions to be enterprising and clinical.

Warren Gatland believes British and Irish Lions can try their luck against Springboks |  Rugby Union News

Warren Gatland believes British and Irish Lions can try their luck against Springboks |  Rugby Union News 2:55
Sky Sports’ Sarra Elgan reports from South Africa as Alun Wyn Jones returns to captain the British and Irish Lions in the first test against the world champions, live on Sky Sports

Sky Sports’ Sarra Elgan reports from South Africa as Alun Wyn Jones returns to captain the British and Irish Lions in the first test against the world champions, live on Sky Sports

In forwards, Luke Cowan-Dickie won the hooker race while Jack Conan sits at No.8.

Seasoned full-backs Owen Farrell and Conor Murray are forced to settle for bench positions, as is Liam Williams, while previous Lions tour veterans Taulupe Faletau, Mako Vunipola and Jamie George miss the 23 as notorious victims. .

Gatland has revealed that narrowing down options to a starting XV and bench was “by far” the most difficult of his four tours, but clear intention shaped the decisions made.

“It’s twofold. You can’t face South Africa without knowing you have to match their physique because you can’t allow them to dominate,” Gatland said.

“The rugby test match is all about physical combat and that doesn’t change, but it’s also about being smart and when these offensive opportunities arise we have to be able to take advantage of them.

Warren Gatland believes British and Irish Lions can try their luck against Springboks |  Rugby Union News

Warren Gatland believes British and Irish Lions can try their luck against Springboks |  Rugby Union News 2:22
Sky Sports expert Will Greenwood is shocked by Gatland’s bottom line for the British and Irish Lions’ first test against South Africa on Saturday

Sky Sports expert Will Greenwood is shocked by Gatland’s bottom line for the British and Irish Lions’ first test against South Africa on Saturday

“We’re in a great conditioning position so we’re not going to fall. We think as the game progresses we’re going to get stronger and stronger.

“We’re going to be in a tussle, but we’re confident we can get over that. You’re not going to get everything your way in a test match, but there are times when you will have some ascendancy and we think that we can capitalize on that. “

Gatland was pleased with the reaction of those unhappy about being left out in a full-fledged training session on Tuesday, noting that there was “a bit of fuss and stuff.”

Jones joked that due to the intensity of the afternoon training session, some players were asking if test selections were awarded.

Surprise outside the camp that greeted Gatland’s willingness to pick players like Hogg, Van der Merwe and Daly – selections that come with risk – was offset by the coaching staff’s difficulty in clinching a 23.

“I asked the coaches to come with their 23. We were all different. We all had to compromise and debate different positions, that’s how it should be,” said Gatland.

“I can tell you that none of the coaches had the 23 they came to the meeting with. To give you an idea, in the front peloton we had four of the same eight and in the back line we had three of the same seven between the five of us.

“In previous tours you probably went to meetings and had a consistency of 19-20 players that everyone was on the same page on. But there were so many players that made this selection really difficult for we.”

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