Gatland challenge 'patched-up' Lions

Sun, 16 Jun 2013 10:09
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Coach Warren Gatland has challenged his patched-up B&I Lions to maintain their momentum against the Brumbies on Tuesday.

Coach Warren Gatland has challenged his patched-up British and Irish Lions to maintain their momentum and remain unbeaten on tour with victory over the ACT Brumbies on Tuesday.

With an eye on Saturday's opening Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane, Gatland will give three players their Lions debuts while veteran Welsh wing Shane Williams will be 'dropping in' for a three-day stint.

The Lions are unbeaten in five tour games and on Sunday named six players of their matchday 23-man squad from outside their original 37-strong selection.

Christian Wade, Billy Twelvetrees and Brad Barritt will be making their Lions debuts in the backline, having flown in over the weekend, while Williams will come out of his international retirement to join the squad to play on a third Lions tour from his stint in Japanese club rugby.

Two forwards were previously called in as replacements, Ryan Grant and Alex Corbisiero (who is on the subs bench).

"We just went through picking a team last [Saturday] night, trying to look through the looking glass towards Saturday [the first Test] a little bit and thinking about the players," Gatland said Sunday.

"The decision was made in terms of Christian and Brad to bring them in.

"We felt that there were a number of players who were either sore or had backed up and, again, if you look at our back three we felt we were pretty short there at the moment.

"To give us the best chance for next week, rather than potentially playing someone on Saturday, Tuesday, then Saturday, we thought we'd be proactive and call someone in now."

Gatland said Test spots were still up for grabs for the Brisbane series opener with the Wallabies.

"The players who play on Tuesday, the responsibility is, one, yes they get a chance to put their hand up to be selected for the Test side, but they keep that momentum and they keep that morale in the squad going. That's going to be a key for us."

Gatland said his decision to call for 36-year-old Williams to join the tour was a 'one off'.

"We just said we needed him for one game. He is already halfway here and part of the reasoning behind that is that he is still playing," Gatland said.

"We spoke to Shane and just said the proviso is he comes in Monday, trains, plays on Tuesday and he leaves the squad on Wednesday. He was perfectly happy with that.

"We know that he's fit and in training and I'm sure he'll come in and do the jersey proud and do himself proud."

Injuries are mounting in the Lions squad with Jamie Roberts having a scan on his injured right leg and George North struggling with a tight hamstring. Tommy Bowe has a broken hand, Brian O'Driscoll was fit enough to play on Tuesday, but wasn't considered, and Manu Tuilagi is treating an injured shoulder.

"Fingers crossed with Jamie. He has never pulled a hamstring before and he is not 100 percent sure whether that is the injury. We're hoping Manu is going to be fit, but at the moment his shoulder's still sore. He's out in training and we're hoping he's going to be fit and available for Saturday.

"We are trying to give potentially our Test side the best possible chance of being fit. We want to have everyone fresh to try to win the first Test match.

"The games have been tough and physical and Saturday night against the NSW Waratahs was no different to anything else we would have expected."

AFP

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Fri, 26 August 2016
Golden Lions v Boland 15h00 Johannesburg
Pumas v Griquas 17h10 Kimberley
Sat, 27 August 2016
New Zealand v Australia 07h35 Wellington
EP Kings v Western Province 14h00 Port Elizabeth
Sharks v Blue Bulls 16h10 Durban
Argentina v South Africa 17h40 Salta
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 20 August 2016
South Africa v Argentina 30 | 23
Golden Lions v Griquas 24 | 30
Australia v New Zealand 8 | 42
Fri, 19 August 2016
Blue Bulls v EP Kings 49 | 35
Western Province v Free State Cheetahs 25 | 32
Boland v Sharks 20 | 41
Sat, 13 August 2016
Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls 43 | 20
Golden Lions v Pumas 68 | 26
Fri, 12 August 2016
Sharks v Griquas 46 | 24
EP Kings v Boland 10 | 28
Sat, 06 August 2016
Boland v Free State Cheetahs 16 | 44
Hurricanes v Lions 20 | 3
Fri, 05 August 2016
Pumas v Sharks 10 | 33
Blue Bulls v Western Province 45 | 26
Sat, 30 July 2016
Lions v Highlanders 42 | 30
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