Lions in Australia

Gatland wants a tougher test

2013-06-05 18:58
Warren Gatland (AFP)

Perth - British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has called for tougher challenges in his team's forthcoming matches on their tour of Australia after the visitors overwhelmed a depleted Western Force side 69-17 on Wednesday.

Force coach Michael Foley, with one eye on Sunday's clash with the New South Wales Waratahs, selected seven players in the Perth-based Super Rugby side who have not played in the southern hemisphere competition.

"The Force were thinking of their Super Rugby game on the weekend making a few changes, that's their prerogative," Gatland told reporters.

"Ideally I would have liked to have played against a stronger game but we just made the focus about ourselves and I'm sure the (Queensland) Reds will be lot tougher in Brisbane on Saturday."

The Force are bottom of the Australian conference in Super Rugby with only three wins from their 14 matches but they did manage to run in two tries against the Lions as well as disrupt a couple of lineout throws by Rory Best in the first half.

Gatland, an assistant coach in the Lions' 2009 tour of South Africa, said weakened opposition there had led to a dismal display in the first half of the first test against the Springboks when they were blown off the ball by the home side's physicality.

"Something we learned from 2009 was when we arrived for that first test we thought we were in pretty good nick and then there was a big step up but I don't think we are going to get caught this time," the Wales coach said.

"We have just got to be aware of the opposition we are playing and if we do get victories like tonight we don't get too carried away

Foley said he was immensely proud of his team and hit back at criticism from England's World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward, who said the Lions had been treated with contempt because of the selection of a weakened team.

"Clive is entitled to his opinion, I think there is some hypocrisy in that," he said, pointing to the time Leicester fielding a weakened team to play the Wallabies in a tour match in England.

"They'll be some guys in the side tonight that will go onto play for the Force in the future, it is always good to view things from one perspective but you have got to be a bit more balanced."

Foley's hands were also tied by Australia coach Robbie Deans, who is holding back all of his 25-man squad from playing in the warmup matches against the Lions, something that the tourists encountered in South Africa four years ago.

Foley said Gatland should not be concerned about the strength of opposition in their five remaining warmup games before the first test in Brisbane on June 22.

"Every side that plays the Lions are going to go hard. There are a number of sides that are going to come up against them without their international players and that is just the way it is," the former Wallaby hooker said.

"Every team that plays the Lions wants to be in a position where they can select freely, or more freely, without a scheduling issue.

"Every side will challenge the Lions and every side will go as hard as they can and I think by the time the Lions get to the tests they will be very hardened."


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