The last British & Irish Lions captain to lead a winning Tour has expressed satisfaction at the opening game played out in Hong Kong.
Martin Johnson, who was in the city as a guest of Principal Partner HSBC, watched the game alongside fellow Lions Legend Gareth Edwards, and both were pleased with what they saw.
“It’s a pretty good start. There are always things to work on but it’s nice to get going,” said Johnson.
“The good thing for me was that they changed their tactics, they went a bit closer in. They just ground the Barbarians down at end of the first half and got their two tries that really got them away.
“I think they will be pretty happy with that.”
“You could see that they were keen and that they came on a mission,” added 1968, 1971 and 1974 Lion Edwards, who was particularly pleased with Alex Cuthbert’s performance.
“I think he showed once again how quick he is for a big man. They weren’t the greatest tries he’s ever scored but he showed flashes of how quick he is and that’s exactly what is needed in Australia. Wingers thrive on scoring tries and that will do a world of good for his confidence.”
The Lions have moved on to Perth where they will face the Western Force on Wednesday night and Johnson reckons the real challenge has now begun as the race for a Test cap hits Australian soil.
“It’s as wide open a Test selection as I can remember really with The Lions,” continued the man who captained the tourists in 1997 and 2001.
“It’s all to play for as what you have done gets you here but what you do now from the first game to the first Test gets you in the Test side.”
During the weekend, Johnson and Edwards had helped coach some youngsters at the Hong Kong Football Club, overseeing a special game played between the mini Cubs and mini Barbarians.
Check out exclusive interviews and behind the scenes with Johnson and Edwards, as well as fellow HSBC ambassador Brian O’Driscoll, on HSBC’s interactive Lions youtube channel