Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland calls for intervention from referees

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland calls for intervention from referees

Gatland, back in familiar surroundings in his native city, has also confirmed Owen Farrell will be fit and available for selection for Eden Park, with the tour captain, Sam Warburton, and the centre Jonathan Joseph also in contention for the Test 23 after being omitted from the midweek squad to face the Chiefs on Tuesday.

The victory sent a powerful message to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen as to how tough the Lions would be when the test series gets underway in Auckland next Saturday. "Bringing in these players from an identical time zone, who can hit the ground running and step straight in rather than having to adjust following long-haul travel will help us manage players before the first test".

"All the back-three out there on Tuesday, they're all pretty versatile". "If it was a Test match he would have played". They gave a couple of penalties for blocking.

The Maori game had been expected to be an unofficial fourth test and the first half had been tight with the Maori in the game courtesy of loose forward Liam Messam's try and a conversion and penalty to flyhalf Damian McKenzie.

"Absolutely yeah. When you go look at the tapes and all the stuff off the ball, where someone's run a line or stopped someone getting through, some of it is very subtle", he said. "The lads were huge in the second row in our lineout defense and lineout attack and obviously the boys in the front row drove our scrum". Ben Te'o's done really well and has caused opposition teams problems, Jonathan Joseph against the Higlanders looked risky as well.

The Lions' wins over the Crusaders and the Maori All Blacks have been based around the speed of their defensive line, handing their opponents little-to-no space to work with and, importantly, nullifying the chances to score points from.

"I know how hard it is to pick up for referees because it tends to happen away from the ball".

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The Lions have though scored only seven tries in five games and Gatland is demanding more from star wing George North.

Tour captain Sam Warburton's position also looks to be under scrutiny for the test after an ankle injury stymied his return to the field on tour, while Ireland's Sean O'Brien has been impressive in the big matches.

Charlie Inglefield assesses a potential first XV for the Lions and the need to improve their execution in attack if they are to stand a chance on Saturday. He is not bred from the Kieran Read set of skills for a backrower but he puts his body in places he shouldn't be and he is a leader as his captaincy showed against the Maoris. For us, it is a matter of focusing on our strengths as much as possible.

Further pressure led to Itoje's try in the 53rd.

"He is a little bit more anxious than he normally is, saying these comments about us, things he knows about or doesn't know about, that is normally a sign of a man that is a little bit anxious", Gatland said of Hansen.

"Playing at this level you are always going to get bumps and bruises, but we are in pretty good shape at the moment".

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