“We don’t think they’ll play a huge amount of rugby, they’ll play for territory. So we’ve got to be strong in those areas and be prepared to stay in that arm wrestle and then wait for the opportunities,” says British and Irish Lions coach.
BRITISH and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says the Springboks won’t go to Cape Town Stadium to play “a huge amount of rugby” against his boys.
Instead, he expects Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and his teammates to play a territorial game and try to kick his Lions into the ground in the first of three Tests in the Mother City tomorrow at 6pm.
Gatland says: “We’ll expect that aerial battle and how strong that is going to be, the physicality they’ll bring with their runners off nine.
“We don’t think they’ll play a huge amount of rugby, they’ll play for territory. So we’ve got to be strong in those areas and be prepared to stay in that arm wrestle and then wait for the opportunities that come from an attacking perspective to capitalise on that.
“Probably in the first 30 mins in the ‘A’ game we were short – we worked ourselves back into the game and kept them scoreless in the second half.
“We looked strong in that second half, a couple of tries we felt charged down, things we can fix …
“We feel like we’re in a good place.”
Gatland also believes his team has dented the Boks’ egos with the way they countered their set piece in the 17-13 defeat to the SA ‘A’ team.
He adds: “Very happy with the way our line-out went, our maul defence and the way we scrummaged – a couple of scrums towards the end of the game I felt we dominated. Whether they come with different variations, I don’t think so.
“I think they’ll come with a harder approach. “That’s one aspect we probably dented a little bit of their ego.”
The Springboks will undoubtedly go out tomorrow to try and prove Gatland that their egos are pretty much still intact.
South Africa (15-1): Willie Le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Bench (16-23): Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager, Rynhardt Elstadt, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Damian Willemse.
British and Irish Lions (15-1): Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Ali Price, Jack Conan, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Maro Itoje, Tadhg Furlong, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Wyn Jones. Bench (16-23): Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Liam Williams.