Tag Archives: Gatland

Gatland: Lions ‘pretty positive’ after South Africa ‘A’ loss

The Lions fought back from 17-3 down at half time against a strong South Africa ‘A’ team but were edged out by four points in Cape Town. “There are things we can easily fix in terms of what we gave to them to keep them in the game,” Gatland said

Last Updated: 14/07/21 11:03pm

Lions head coach Warren Gatland had cause to be optimistic despite the defeat to South Africa 'A'

Lions head coach Warren Gatland had cause to be optimistic despite the defeat to South Africa ‘A’

Warren Gatland believes the British and Irish Lions will get more out of Wednesday’s 17-13 loss to South Africa ‘A’ in Cape Town than their opponents.

The home side led 17-3 at half time, but the Lions were on top for much of the game after the break. However, some poor execution in the home side’s 22 meant they could not make their dominance at the scrums and hefty possession count.

Despite a first loss on tour, head coach Gatland was in an upbeat mood after what had been dubbed the unofficial fourth Test due to the strength of what was ostensibly a South African ‘A’ side.

Gatland: Lions 'pretty positive' after South Africa 'A' loss

Lions suffer first defeat of tour against South Africa ‘A’

The Lions suffered their first defeat of this year’s tour on Wednesday as they lost 17-13 to a strong South Africa ‘A’.

“The players are pretty bullish in the changing room, they are confident they can deal with whatever they (South Africa) throw at us in the test series,” Gatland said.

“There are things we can easily fix in terms of what we gave to them to keep them in the game.

“The players are pretty positive about that performance and know we can still improve a lot. We would have got a lot more out of tonight than South Africa.

“The series is going to be a real arm wrestle and that was as close to a Test match as you are going to get.”

Warren Gatland admits his British and Irish Lions side needed a tough game against South Africa 'A' and was delighted with their second half performance despite the defeat.

Sky Sports 2:28
Warren Gatland admits his British and Irish Lions side needed a tough game against South Africa ‘A’ and was delighted with their second half performance despite the defeat.

Warren Gatland admits his British and Irish Lions side needed a tough game against South Africa ‘A’ and was delighted with their second half performance despite the defeat.

The cancellation of the second of South Africa’s warm-up games against Georgia meant the home side’s match-day squad featured numerous players who were part of the Springboks’ World Cup-winning team in 2019.

And 10 days out from the the first of a three-match Test series, Gatland believes the Lions’ opponents have shown their hand in terms of the way they will play.

“They did a lot of things we expected from them: box-kicking, they were aggressive and direct with their running,” Gatland said. “But we scrummed outstandingly well and defended their mauls particularly well.

“There are a few things we need to brush up on in terms of our accuracies and we had a couple of tries turned down. But those are things we can fix.”

Warren Gatland admits his British and Irish Lions side needed a tough game against South Africa 'A' and was delighted with their second half performance despite the defeat.

Sky Sports 2:28
Warren Gatland admits his British and Irish Lions side needed a tough game against South Africa ‘A’ and was delighted with their second half performance despite the defeat.

Warren Gatland admits his British and Irish Lions side needed a tough game against South Africa ‘A’ and was delighted with their second half performance despite the defeat.

Gatland revealed Liam Williams will have to go through concussion protocols over the next week before he is cleared to play in the first Test on July 24 after being forced off in the first half.

However, he welcomed the arrival in South Africa of Alun Wyn Jones on Thursday following the Welshman’s quick recovery from a dislocated shoulder suffered in the win over Japan at Murrayfield barely three weeks ago.

Gatland will sit down with Jones and current tour captain Conor Murray to decide who will lead the team, but says it is no foregone conclusion that the former will start in the Test series.

“He has had no rugby in the last three weeks, only training,” Gatland said. “It will be a conversation about what we do with the team.

“In the game at the moment, having guys come off the bench (in matches) is important. Our bench was pretty good today – there are no guarantees of anyone starting.”

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This post originally posted here SkySports | News

Gatland says no to a second South Africa ‘A’ clash

The British and lrish Lions’ match vs South Africa ‘A’ in Cape Town on Wednesday is live and exclusive on Sky Sports Action and Main Event from 6pm.

Last Updated: 12/07/21 7:43pm

The British and Irish Lions are put through a training session in South Africa

The British and Irish Lions are put through a training session in South Africa

Warren Gatland has welcomed South Africa elevating their ‘A’ clash into an unofficial fourth Test, but the British and Irish Lions head coach has emphatically ruled out meeting for a second time on Saturday.

The Springboks have picked seven starters from the XV that crushed England in the 2019 World Cup final for Wednesday’s fixture in Cape Town, including world player of the year Pieter-Steph Du Toit, Faf De Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe.

Following a severe outbreak of coronavirus that has produced 26 positive tests, South Africa were forced to cancel last Friday’s second Test against Georgia and now need to give inactive players some game time, with the series against the Lions just 12 days away.

Gatland says no to a second South Africa 'A' clash

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It has shaped their selection of a team containing 522 caps and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is hoping to organise another outing for the weekend – ideally against Gatland’s tourists rather than an underpowered provincial franchise.

Although it would mean the Lions cancelling Saturday’s fixture against the Stormers, Erasmus insists it would help guard against any further Covid outbreaks.

Rassie Erasmus was hoping for a second South Africa 'A' game against the Lions

Rassie Erasmus was hoping for a second South Africa ‘A’ game against the Lions

“If we play a game against a team like the Sharks, the chances of infection are as good as we had when we played Georgia,” Erasmus said.

“We’ve been tested negative two days in a row now. We are in a totally hard bubble, we are moving nowhere. Everybody is negative. The British and Irish squad is negative.

“If the two of us can play the ‘A’ game on Wednesday and play another one on Saturday, I think medically, on player welfare grounds and also for the spectators, it would be wonderful. We would have two good match-ups.

“I’m sure Warren and the guys wouldn’t be afraid or scared or say no to that. I’m going to beg until we find really valid medical reasons why that is not the safest option.

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“It would give us the best preparation to be good competition for the Lions – and I’m sure Warren would want us to be at full strength and have good match fitness before we play them in the first Test match. I can’t say I’m confident – I’m hoping.”

Erasmus’ hopes were quickly dashed when Gatland gave a curt reply during a press conference happening simultaneously: “We won’t be playing them again on Saturday.”

 Pieter-Steph du Toit lines up for South Africa A against the Lions

Pieter-Steph du Toit lines up for South Africa A against the Lions

However, the Kiwi is delighted at the strength of the South African side coming to Cape Town Stadium knowing they will provide a genuine gauge of the Lions’ progress having amassed a total of 181 points across three collisions with weak provincial opposition.

“They’ve gone as strong as they possibly can given that they still have some players unavailable. It’s going to be a good test for us,” Gatland said.

“I probably wasn’t expecting them to be as strong as they are. They’re obviously short of games. They feel like they’re underdone and they’ll need a hit out or two.

“It helps our preparation immensely. We’ll get a bit of a feel of where we are and what things we need to work on in the 10 days leading into the first Test.”

Chaotic week for Gatland and Lions

Every match from the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa is exclusively live on Sky Sports; fans who don’t have Sky will be able to catch all the action via streaming service NOW, which offers day/monthly passes; watch the Sharks vs Lions on Wednesday, live on Action and Main Event

Last Updated: 10/07/21 10:59pm

Lions coach Warren Gatland saw his players run out 71-31 winners against the Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday

Lions coach Warren Gatland saw his players run out 71-31 winners against the Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday

Warren Gatland signed off the most turbulent week of his career as the British and Irish Lions defied their Covid problems to overrun the Sharks for the second time in four days.

The Lions brushed aside a slow start against spirited opponents to run out 71-31 winners at Loftus Versfeld and maintain their triumphant progress through South Africa.

On Wednesday night a heavily-revised team that was short on backs scrambled to Emirates Airline Park to fulfil the first Sharks fixture as concerns over a significant coronavirus outbreak lingered.

Gatland says his British and Irish Lions players responded well after a challenging first half against the Sharks

Sky Sports 2:40
Gatland says his British and Irish Lions players responded well after a challenging first half against the Sharks

Gatland says his British and Irish Lions players responded well after a challenging first half against the Sharks

And while those fears have eased with just one player and four staff members still self-isolating at the team hotel in Johannesburg, the Lions were only able to complete one full training session for the rematch in Pretoria.

A further setback arrived just hours before kick-off when Maro Itoje was ruled out of the starting XV by a stomach bug and Finn Russell was withdrawn from the bench because of an Achilles injury that could end his tour.

Gatland admitted it had been the most chaotic few days he has experienced as a coach and added: “One of the things we’ve done right from the start of the tour is say that there will be some chaos.

“There has been chaos. It’s then about adapting to that and then changing. That’s been the mantra. I thought we handled it during the week. I see it as a positive.

Harris scored the opening try for the Lions

Harris scored the opening try for the Lions

“If there’s anything wrong with us, that doesn’t upset us. We’re able to make decisions quickly and move on. We’ve just got to go with the flow and react to whatever is thrown at us.

“If anything else happens on the tour that is as chaotic as this week has been, that would probably surprise me.

Despite the unflattering final scoreline, the Sharks were a far greater test the second time around and the score was tied at 26-26 until Jaden Hendrikse was shown a red card for elbowing Liam Williams early in the second half.

After a procession through South Africa so far, for 45 minutes this was the kind of workout the Lions needed.

“It’s what is going to come in the Test matches in terms of the South African team who will look to come pretty hard, put us under pressure and see if they can catch us behind the gainline with some loose stuff,” Gatland said.

Highlights from the Cell C Sharks against the British & Irish Lions in the third match of the tour of South Africa

Sky Sports 5:18
Highlights from the Cell C Sharks against the British & Irish Lions in the third match of the tour of South Africa

Highlights from the Cell C Sharks against the British & Irish Lions in the third match of the tour of South Africa

“We just need to make sure that we are a bit more accurate, tidier and we did that a lot better in the second half.

“The players were well aware they’d forced a few passes and thrown a couple of bad ones which allowed them the opportunity to score.”

Gatland conceded that Russell’s injury could rule him out of the Test series, prompting a call-up for England’s rookie fly-half Marcus Smith.

“Finn’s had an injection. It’s not a strained Achilles, there’s a slight, wee tear in it. That’ll keep him out for the next couple of weeks,” Gatland said.

“We’ll see if we can rehab him and he’s going to be in a boot for the next five days. When he comes out of that, he’ll have some more treatment over the next five days.

“If he makes good progress we’ll assess him going forward. If he’s not, then there’s a possibility he may go home. It’s a wait-and-see situation with him.”

British and Irish Lions: Warren Gatland experience key vs South Africa says Dan Biggar

British and Irish Lions: Warren Gatland experience key vs South Africa says Dan Biggar
Dan Biggar is backing Warren Gatland to turn the dreamers who have been on cloud nine since their Lions selection into believers in South Africa.
The Wales stand-off will be reunited with his long-time national coach on the tour and knows the Lions can count on him delivering the winning mentality the Lions will need this summer in the world champions’ backyard.

“It is always great to work with someone who has had the success Warren has had,” said Biggar.

“Warren changed the mindset of Welsh rugby when he came in turning us from people who hoped to win to believing that every time you took to the field you were going to win and you have the ability to win.

“That is what he will do well – especially in a short period when he hasn’t got time to do everything he would want to do if he was a national coach or a club coach.

“Gats’ experience in these situations and big games and big moments will be crucial.”

Biggar, who piloted Wales to the title in this season’s Six Nations, went on the 2017 tour to New Zealand but found himself stuck behind Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell in the queue for the No 10 jersey and did not play a Test.

But with Sexton overlooked for the tour and Farrell not at his best for England in the championship, the Northampton stand-off is aiming to change that this time around.

“Missing out on Test selection last time was tough to take but I was also up against Owen and Johnny at their absolute peak,” he said.

“It was a great tour and I loved it – I felt like I played some really good rugby – but that’s a huge aim for this time around and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t.”

When the revised itinerary is confirmed on Wednesday, it will see the Lions facing two of the three Tests at altitude in Johannesburg.

It will be a uniquely challenging tour all round with six weeks spent in a bubble but Biggar thinks the difficulties will only pull the squad tighter.

The Lions, as always, will be a band of brothers.

“On tour last time there were people I thought I would never get on with in a million years but I ended up getting quite close with,” said Biggar.

“I thought I would want to jump on the nearest plane home when James Haskell came on tour but he ended up an absolute legend.

“He got called up late and everyone who wasn’t English was thinking: ‘I can’t believe we have got to spend seven weeks with this bloke’ but actually he was one of the best blokes you will ever meet. I am actually meeting him for a coffee next week. That is how it pans out.”

Wonderkid Louis Rees-Zammit is meanwhile being backed to flower spectacularly this summer hothoused in the unique Lions environment.

The 20-year-old, who is the youngest player to be selected for the tourists in 62 years, enjoyed a dazzling first Six Nations.

But coach Warren Gatland expects him to make even more of an impact on the hard grounds of South Africa this summer with the cream of the home nations around him.

“There is no doubt about his pace, there is no doubt about his finishing and scoring,” said Gatland.

“He is still not the finished article, he is still working on his game but to me it is not always picking players who are the finished article, it is thinking how much better can they be by being in a Lions squad with quality players around them and bringing them on.

“There are a few players in that boat and Louis is definitely one of those who has burst onto the scene but could continue to get better and better.”

Rees-Zammit, who will have the responsibility of carrying the squad’s soft toy lion mascot around South Africa for six weeks, only made his Test debut in October.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Lions squad: Warren Gatland must pick Manu Tuilagi and avoid Eddie Jones error – ROBINSON

Lions squad: Warren Gatland must pick Manu Tuilagi and avoid Eddie Jones error - ROBINSON
Manu Tuilagi has been out of sight since November but he definitely should not be out of Warren Gatland’s mind when he names his Lions squad.
Think of the one player South Africa would not want running at them this summer and it is Tuilagi. He is close to a comeback for Sale after his torn Achilles and by the time the series starts he should be purring.

He has to go on the tour.

I would also have Sam Simmonds inked in. It is bizarre how the Exeter No 8 continues to be overlooked by England – especially as they played so poorly in the Six Nations.

I’m hoping Gatland won’t make the same mistake as Eddie Jones.

If he is in it will be a wonderful moment for Simmonds when the news breaks.

For me in 2001, I hadn’t been named in the initial preliminary squad and hadn’t started a Test for England so I wasn’t tuned in for the announcement.

I was actually fixing a fence in the garden because we had a Great Dane at the time which kept escaping when I got the call from Sale’s media manager Dave Swanton to tell me I was in.

That tour was such an incredible learning experience in the company of great players from across the four nations and one which did so much for me. Five tries in my first game for the Lions, that phone box score inside three minutes of the First Test and top try scorer on the tour. Fun? You bet.

What sticks with me most though was the incredible travelling support – the sea of red in the stands – and it’s such a shame the 2023 Lions will not have the chance to experience that.

It’s great that the tour is on but something will definitely be missing. With no Lions fans, the bubble restrictions and the fact that they are playing the world champions I think this will be the hardest tour ever.

There is only one man to lead them on it – Alun Wyn Jones. He had a great Six Nations leading Wales to the title, has all the experience in the world and is a figure who is used to playing with the pressures of captaincy.

I know Maro Itoje has been talked about for the job in some quarters but to lead the Lions you need to be a captain of your national side or at least your club and Itoje is neither so just let him do what he does best and play.

It isn’t as if Jones will be short on leadership back-up with Stuart Hogg and Owen Farrell – both national captains – on the trip.

Farrell had a disappointing Six Nations and is playing Championship rugby at the moment with Saracens but I would expect him to regain his form as a Lions tour progresses.

It is the sort of environment which will bring the best out in him and if it does I would pick him at stand-off in the Test side.

I would also select Jamie George, a terrific Lion in 2017 who lost his England place in the Six Nations as well as Hamish Watson, the Scotland flanker.

He showed in the Six Nations he can punch above his weight and he can help the Lions to move South Africa around and, in tandem with Tom Curry, disrupt them at the breakdown.

I’d also want Louis Rees-Zammit on the wing. He has the pace to go the distance on the hard grounds of South Africa. He has only played a handful of Wales Tests but a rookie can make a big impact on a Lions tour.

I guess I should know.

Jason Robinson’s Lions XV for the 1st Test: Stuart Hogg (Scotland); Anthony Watson (England), Manu Tuilagi (England), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales); Owen Farrell (England), Conor Murray (Ireland); Mako Vunipola (England), Jamie George (England), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, capt), Tom Curry (England), Hamish Watson (Scotland), Taulupe Faletau (Wales).

Warren Gatland’s likely 36: Back three – Hogg, L Williams, A Watson, Rees-Zammit, May, Nowell. Centres: Henshaw, J Davies, Ringrose, Tuilagi. Half-backs: Biggar, Farrell, Russell, Murray, T Williams, Care. Front row: W Jones, M Vunipola, Sutherland, George, Owens, Cowan-Dickie, Sinckler, Furlong, Z Fagerson. Second row: Jones (capt), Itoje, Ryan, Beirne. Back row: T Curry, H Watson, Tipuric, Navidi, Underhill, Faletau, S Simmonds.

Jason Robinson is writing for Express Sport in association with TXM Group (www.txmgroup.com).

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed