British & Irish Lions
Can Oz up the ante?
Fri, 24 May 2013 13:44
It will be a contest that our blokes have never experienced
Take a World Cup and increase the pressure and intensity even more and that is what you get from a British and Irish Lions Tour according to Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
Deans feels is what his players are going to face when the Lions tour party roles into town in the next few weeks is something that they have never, and will never, experience in their careers.
It has been 16 years since the Lions tasted success in a Test series and the expectation on them is always incredibly high which not only puts additional pressure on them but also adds to the pressure the home side is feeling.
With the visitors only coming every 12 years it means that the intensity of the series is hiked up because of the rarity of the series.
"It will be a contest that our blokes have never experienced.
"Some of our blokes have experienced World Cup rugby, but I tell you the ante goes up even further," Deans mentioned.
The Lions' 2001 campaign ended in heart-break and those feelings will still be felt by the only surviving member of that tour - Brian O'Driscoll. Having a player who was there and can let the others know what it feels like will be huge for the tourists.
The combination of the best players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland means that there are world-class players in each positions and that makes the task even more difficult for Deans and his men.
"We understand what's coming, we understand the Lions have a very experienced and physical combination, they have a particular presence in the backline.
"So we have to deal with that and then bring something of our own in terms of getting up and over the top of them. We believe we have put together a group that can cater for both elements," Deans added.
The Lions head south with their own challenges. It is a long tour and although there is a big squad of players, Lions coach Warren Gatland will want to keep a certain percentage of players as his go-to for the Test matches. This does pose a problem for these players as fatigue - both mentally and physically - can take it's toll.
"There is no question it is one hell of a challenge.
"Playing in the southern hemisphere is one of rugby's hardest challenges," Gatland added.
The physically imposing Lions squad of 16 backs and 21 forwards is also steeled by the experience of two former Lions captains in Ireland's Paul O'Connell and O'Driscoll, who is on his fourth successive Lions tour.
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