Lions begin with slippery BaaBaas
The British and Irish Lions begin their tour of Australia with a potentially shifty fixture against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on Saturday.
The British and Irish Lions begin their 125th anniversary tour of Australia with a potentially shifty fixture against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on Saturday.
The Barabarians have been known in the past to be a fairly happy-go-lucky side and they have been seen to throw the ball around and be slightly care-free but Lions forwards coach Graham Rowntree is aware of the threat that they do pose.
"We play them every year at Twickenham with England and we think it's going to be this razzmatazz team where they throw the ball around. But remember four years ago we were beaten?
"There's good enough players there to cause potential upset and they keep adding to it. It will be a good work-out for us and we are taking it very seriously," Rowntree told lionsrugby.com.
It is also an opportunity for some of the fringe players in the Lions squad to impress if they get given the opportunity on Saturday. Being the first chance for the Lions to have a hit out the pressure on them will be quite high and the occasion could prove to be fairly daunting.
"It's our first game and the first opportunity for a lot of these guys in a Lions shirt. There are a lot of things that go with a Lions shirt that players have to get right. There is a lot of responsibility.
"Regardless of whether it's a Barbarians team or not we will be taking it very, very seriously.
"There are potential banana skins in the schedule. We have to be switched on," he added cautiously.
It has been a long season for the players and managing them is going to be paramount if they wish to succeed in Australia. Picking up injuries is inevitable but it is knowing how to deal with those that is of vital importance.
"It's the wrong end of the season for many of these guys so we've been very mindful of that and it means we have got to be very accurate in what we are doing," added Rowntree.
Heading out of a Northern hemisphere winter into the humidity of Hong Kong is going to be quite a challenge for the Lions but Rowntree has identified this along with the fact that this will be their first match as a team before the head to Australia.
"It will be a different challenge, the humidity - it's the first hit out for these guys and they have some class players," said Rowntree.