Lion Alun Wyn Jones: We know what's at stake

Adjust Comment Print

Winless in a New Zealand Test series since 1971, Gatland and his 37 remaining men could enter the ranks of immortality with a win.

Both Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland claim that Saturday's third Test between the Lions and All Blacks not define the global careers of any of their players - for better or worse. Instead, there is only one focus on the mind of Jones: winning the match, and the series against a New Zealand side, who will be hurting after the Wellington defeat. "I will get into trouble for saying this but the referees need help", said Hansen.

Warren Gatland found himself under intense scrutiny, last week, after naming his Lions team to face New Zealand in the Second Test. Ronan O'Gara questioned one of Gatland's biggest tactical calls but he was happy to see it work out well. He made his debut off the bench against Manu Samoa in the All Blacks' warm-up Test three weeks ago.

"But it did expose me to a couple of people who were very influential on me and it exposed me to experiences that give you a sense of reality that rugby's just a game".

The Lions did just about deserve their victory.

Part of the credit, of course, goes to the Lions‚ whose huge line speed and supreme tackle efficiency has shut the All Blacks down and reduced them to scoring only three tries in the series. Beauden Barrett's attractive scoop to recover a ball with Conor Murray breathing down his neck in the first half was pure class. 6'4 Jordie and Beauden will be joined by the third Barrett brother, Scott, who is named on the bench once again. "You appreciate it is going to be probably the biggest game that we've played in, but that's what every sacrifice you've made - since you were a young kid and chose to be a rugby player - is all about, moments like this". You can win. You can lose.

Perhaps more telling than praise from northern hemisphere pundits was criticism in New Zealand media about Itoje's "cynical" repeated offside infringements as the match hung in the balance.

It promises to be an epic occasion, and one that Hansen is relishing. The All Blacks coach is acutely aware of what's on the line at Eden Park and has thus gone about exposing one area of the Lions' game and safeguarding another of his own.

"Very little will change from our point of view". And yet there was much to admire in what the visiting team did, especially in the first half.

Tickets for the upcoming Test against New Zealand at BT Murrayfield sold out in record time, only the second time in history the SRU have sold out an Autumn global. Win the Eden Park decider and he will be hailed.

"This group of players, they have an opportunity to leave a bit of a legacy", said Gatland in Auckland on Thursday.

Hansen revealed that he did not consider Rieko Ioane and Waisake Naholo, the two wingers who started the second Test in Wellington because of injury problems, with Beauden's selection allowing Israel Dagg to switch to the right wing, with Julian Savea also earning a recall.

Comments