Kay: Aussie pack critics over the top

British & Irish Lions forward Ben Kay will not underestimate the Australia pack when he lines up for England in the first Test in Sydney on June 11. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

British & Irish Lions forward Ben Kay will not underestimate the Australia pack when he lines up for England in the first Test in Sydney on June 11.

Much criticism has been levelled at the Wallabies’ pack since the side’s poor tour of Europe last year, where they lost three of four matches.

However, Kay believes the attacks have been over the top.

"The Australian pack aren’t as bad as I think everyone’s making out," he said.

"They’re a good set of forwards and they’re coached very well.

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"To say they’re a terrible pack of forwards on one performance is probably something that we’d never say about the opposition and we’ll be focusing just as hard on our set-piece regardless of that performance.

"We see that as a one-off rather than the norm when you play against Australia and they’ve always had a great history of putting out decent packs."

The recruitment of former Bath coach John Connolly to the top job at the Wallabies is another reason Kay is confident the encounter with Australia’s forwards won’t be an easy one.

Connolly took Bath to a domestic cup final last year with a side known for a tough, competitive pack and Kay is sure he will instil a similar work ethic in the Australian team.

"We’ve had a lot of dealings with the coaching staff over in England and every team they’ve put out has prided themselves and competed fully at first phase," he said.

"If you look at Bath, that’s probably one of their strongest points and they’ve got a lot of talent in that Australian pack and I’m sure when it comes up to match day, and particularly if people are going to be writing stuff saying they’re not up to it, there’s no better incentive to them and nothing that’s going to make them play any better."

Australia named nine rookies in their 33-man squad and Kay admitted he knew very little about new props Rodney Blake or Benn Robinson.

"I’ve been concentrating on trying to get my own form back on track this year but we’ve obviously got a lot of video analysis with us."

While there are also a number of new faces in the England squad, as a host of high profile names are given a rest ahead of next year’s World Cup, each player is deserving of their spot, according to Kay.

"I think whatever team runs out against Australia in Australia it’s a huge challenge," he said.

"There are a lot of guys who have been given an opportunity to impress on the international stage what they’ve been doing week in and week out in the Guinness Premiership this year and it’s been a fantastic tournament for us back in England.

"Some real talent has shone through and those guys, rightfully, have been given their opportunity."

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