Lions' Howley dismisses 'Warrenball' talk

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 09:34

REACTION: British and Irish Lions attack coach Rob Howley slapped down talk of 'Warrenball' tactics on Tuesday as he admitted the tourists were a "work in progress".

Howley said he had no idea what was meant by 'Warrenball', the term used to describe head coach Warren Gatland's preference for powerful, direct running.

This week Gatland - who has led Wales to three Six Nations titles, and the Lions to victory over Australia in 2013 - has bristled at suggestions that he only had one coaching style.

"I don't know what 'Warrenball' means," Howley said, ahead of Wednesday's second tour match against the Blues.

"I haven't got a clue. We want to bring a Southern Hemisphere-style rugby chaos to our game. The players are enjoying the speed and intensity in training. 

"Our game plan is in its infancy at the moment, but hopefully you'll see us improve on that when we play the Blues."

The Lions, bidding for only their second Test series win over the All Blacks, started their tour slowly with a 13-7 win over the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on Saturday.

Gatland fired back, "What do you mean by one type of game?" when asked this week if he had only one coaching style - the physical, direct approach favoured by Wales.

England coach Eddie Jones is one high-profile critic of such route-one tactics, commenting before the tour: "I think you struggle to beat the All Blacks like that."

Howley said the Lions' game plan is still evolving, but he insisted he wants his team to play off-the-cuff when needed.

"Our daily programme involves playing 15 on 15 and it's a work in progress. The one thing we need to do is have a framework whereby the players play what's in front of them," he said.

"We have to adapt and play what we see. The one thing the players have really enjoyed is rugby chaos, it's very unstructured.

"We are all aware of the pace of the game in the Southern Hemisphere. 

"Clearly our game isn't fully in place yet, as you saw by the performance at the weekend. We know we need to improve in the next couple of weeks." 

The Lions threw away at least three try-scoring chances in their opening match and Howley knows they must improve if they are to beat the Blues.

The tourists, who blamed jetlag for their sluggish opening performance, have since produced an intensity in training which Howley said had taken him by surprise.

"That's how the majority of international sides play now, from chaos," Howley said. 

"We've got a hugely motivated squad and we're trying to put match speed into training. We did an offload drill on Monday and the contact was pretty explosive. It got pretty heated. 

"We're mindful of injuries, but we want to put the players under pressure. It became highly competitive. The players want to give everything, but sometimes you have to manage that."

Gatland has named an all-new side for the second tour match, captained by Wales hooker Ken Owens.

Agence France-Presse

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Team P W D L Pts
B&I Lions 0 0 0 0 0
Australia 0 0 0 0 0
Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Force 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0
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NZ Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Maori All Blacks 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0