Warren Gatland on eve of Second Test in Pretoria

Warren Gatland talks ahead of the game at Loftus Road on Saturday, a must win match for the Lions. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Warren Gatland talks ahead of the game at Loftus Road on Saturday, a must win match for the Lions.

On looking to start where the Lions finished off last week
That is key to the game, we have to be in the game for the first twenty or thirty minutes, we just can’t afford to behind by ten thirteen points against south Africa. We were very pleased with the way that we finished the game with territory and possession and we really dominated in that last twenty minutes but it is really important that we start well and we do negate their physical threat against us.

On ensuring that the Lions start well
We have just got to make sure our discipline is good, keep our patience, make sure we don’t give away any stupid penalties, we have got to scrum well, our line has got to be accurate and we have to be smart in the way that we do play in that first thirty minutes, that is real key to our performance. I think that the players that were involved last weekend and the players coming in are very aware of how important that start is.

On not sitting back
We are not talking about sitting back we are not looking to play negatively or play no rugby we have to compete up front, our scrum has got to be solid, get good line out ball and got to keep our discipline and not give away any soft three points.

On needing to start with more attacking play
We were caught short last week, we felt that our scrum didn’t function well. I think one of the things that surprised me about South Africa is how little rugby they played. They went to fourth phase once in the game and I think there centres got one pass, for me there has always been a lot of criticism about Northern Hemisphere rugby, about us being quite boring and playing ten man rugby but you wouldn’t often give that criticism to teams, particularly teams like South Africa they just didn’t play any rugby at all.

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They didn’t have to play a lot of rugby; we gifted them a number of points, there were three or four real scoring opportunities from ourselves. We have been quite harsh on ourselves as we thought the first try was pretty soft and we have got to make sure that we don’t let any soft tries or soft points in that early phase of the game.

On ensuring the Lions are better equipped to defend the ball
We worked on that on Tuesday night and we felt that the Emerging Boks didn’t get any gains in that area and this is probably one of the reasons that Simon Shaw has been selected because he is defensively one of the best guys in world rugby at negating rolling mauls and that is definitely one of his strengths and that is why he has been brought into the side.
On fitness levels of the Lions
We are not concerned about altitude, we think physically we are in great shape and we take a lot of heart out of the last twenty minutes of the game and that we had eighty percent of the territory and possession and scored fourteen points in the last twenty minutes we felt that the South Africans were the guys out on their feet, the ones on their hands on knees, struggling with the game and I think it is a reflection of why they have gone for a five two split because they are a little bit concerned about their conditioning that perhaps give us some credit the guys are in really good physical condition and we are confident that we can play and last for eighty minutes and put them under pressure.

On anticipating any change in the Boks approach for the second Test
I was really disappointed with the way that they played winning Test match rugby there is a possibility that they will go out and throw a bit more ball around but we didn’t put them under enough pressure to do that. We gifted them points in the early part of the game and they didn’t have to play.

On Jamie Roberts
What a fantastic Tour Jamie Roberts has had, he has caused the South Africans a lot of problems in that midfield in terms of breaks. Jamie has got better game by game, since the Six Nations, he is only 22 and in his second year of professional rugby and he has got better as this tour has gone on and his partnership with Brian O’Driscoll has really flourished and blossomed on this trip. Jamie is taking on more responsibility, he is talking more and as a player he is playing with a huge amount of confidence.

On requiring more physicality for the second test
Important that we must scrummage well, we got a knock in confidence that we didn’t scrummage well in the first half and that has a huge bearing psychologically on teams so that is a key area for us and that we negate that effect that they have at ball time.

On last weeks scrum
You can’t put down everything down to one person, there are eight guys in the scrum and some guys behind making sure that you go; sometimes you have to through a coping strategy at scrum time and try and correct things on the field as you are going through that. We talked about that at half time and after half time we made some changes and we were very happy with the way that we scrummaged in the second half. There were a number of scrums where we got really clean ball and we were going forward and a few scrums on South Africa’s ball that put them under pressure and we got turnovers as well.

On ensuring the Lions make a statement early on
It is key to the game and South African teams have very much a bully mentality to come in and try and dominate, taking, pushing players off the ball, getting into players faces. I would be very surprised if any of the Lions players take a backward step to any physical threat imposed by the South Africans.

On the Lions looking for Test victory
We have worked really hard and we were very disappointed with last week, a lot of opportunities were missed. Test match rugby is about taking your chances and we didn’t take our chances last week and we have gifted them quite a number of points and we have really got to improve in those areas if we have got to have a good chance of winning tomorrow in Pretoria.

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