PREVIEW: Chiefs v B&I Lions

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 09:58

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: British and Irish Lions Test hopefuls will be giving everything they got against the Chiefs on Tuesday ahead of the first Test against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.

The Lions are coming off a morale-boosting win against the Maori All Blacks and loose forward James Haskell said it was important that they build on that momentum heading into the match against the All Blacks.

"I think every game has its importance," Haskell said in an interview on the Lions website. 

"Any time you put on that Lions shirt or your international jersey or whatever it might be you have to leave it in a better place than you found it, you have to put everything out there.

"On a tour like this there's no point ever trying to save yourself. You have to run yourself into the ground every single game for your teammates, for the guys not playing.

"To play against the Chiefs, they've only lost a couple of games this season, we get plenty of highlights beamed over to the UK of them scoring unbelievable tries and everything else so it's just very important for us to leave nothing out there and put everything in there to make sure the boys go into the Test match with another win and some real positivity."

Haskell believes the Lions are peaking at the right time with the start of the Test series just a few days away.

"We've trained together the entire time, we've lived and breathed everything, the disappointments and the success together.

"Every time a team plays together they get better and better. You don't add more layers of complication, you add what you're supposed to deliver with more determination and more clarity.

"Against the Maori, we took it to another level and again on Tuesday and then again on Saturday, that's the way it goes.

"You know, we'll be aware of all the threats against the Chiefs. You cannot switch off. They're going to run it from anywhere, they're going to do the quick throws, they're going to do everything they're going to do. We just play our game with intensity, energy, which is a given and the result will go our way.

"There are obviously some differing styles emerging on this Tour. I think the Chiefs more than anyone, they have got a good set-piece.

"But no doubt they'll come with a plan to derail what we're going to do and again in rugby you adjust things from week to week, but the core of what you do always stays the same. It's how you deliver that.

"And I think you have to deal with the threats, you have to give the Chiefs the utmost respect, but you have to really put yourself and your team in the right place and deliver what you say you're going to do," said Haskell.

Players to watch: 

For Chiefs: Flyhalf and captain Stephen Donald is a legend in Hamilton and he will not want to let his fans down in such a big clash. In the midfield, Tim Nanai-Williams could prove to be a tricky customer with ball in hand, while fullback Shaun Stevenson has plenty of pace to burn. In the pack, lock Dominic Bird is a tough customer and will look to dominate the collisions against the British and Irish Lions' big boys.

For British and Irish Lions: Elliot Daly gets a start on the wing and he has the ability to cut any defence to shreds when given enough ball. Greig Laidlaw is probably the third-choice scrumhalf heading into the Tests and he will certainly be wanting to put his hand up to feature in the Test series. Look out for replacement flyhalf Finn Russell, who has joined the Lions squad after starring in Scotland's win against Australia in Sydney las weekend.

Head to head: There some excellent breakdown players in both teams, so there will be a spotlight on the two loose-forward trios. Locks Courtney Lawes and Iain Henderson will also be tested in the line-outs against Michael Allardice and Dominic Bird.

Prediction: The British and Irish Lions' midweek team have failed to pick up a win on tour so far. However, this will change on Tuesday as a lot of players will have one final opportunity to impress Warren Gatland ahead of the Test series. The Lions will take this one by 12 points or less.  

Teams: 

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Stephen Donald (captain), 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Michael Allardice, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Liam Messam, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Luteru Laulala, 23 Chase Tiatia.

British and Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Christiaan Stander, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James Haskell, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Alun Wyn Jones, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Finn Russell, 23 Tommy Seymour.

Date: Tuesday, June 20
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT, 08.35 UK & Ireland time)
Expected weather: It will be partly cloudy and chilly with a slight breeze.
Referee: Jérôme Garcès
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Romain Poite (France)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)

@lionsofficial & @rugby365com

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BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
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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
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0
NSW-Queensland 0 0 0 0 0
Blues 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
NZ Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Maori All Blacks 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0