Lions impress White

The man looking to mastermind an end to The British & Irish Lions' unbeaten run tomorrow night says he's been impressed with what he's seen of the tourists so far. [more]

Lions impress White

The man looking to mastermind an end to The British & Irish Lions’ unbeaten run tomorrow night says he’s been impressed with what he’s seen of the tourists so far.

Brumbies boss Jake White wants his troops to write themselves into the history books in Canberra but he admits such a feat won’t be easy, even though The Lions will have a number of new faces in their starting side for game six of the 10-match tour.

White watched The Lions’ last adventure in South Africa with a vested interest after coaching the Springboks to World Cup glory just two years earlier and he believes Britain and Ireland’s elite have started where they left off in the third Test in Johannesburg in 2009.

“There's clearly a massive sign that this is a good Lions team,” said White, who has already led the Brumbies to the Australian Conference title and a place in the Super XV play offs this season.

“I watched with interest in 2009 when I was in South Africa – a lot of those South African players I coached at the World Cup. There was talk that the South Africans would win that series 3-0. There was talk that that World Cup-winning team was going to be just too strong for the Lions, but had it not been for a 50-metre kick from Morne Steyn, who knows what the outcome of that Test would have been.

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“When I look at it like that and I look at this Lions side, they've gone about their business very methodically and very professionally and they've made a statement. Every time someone's spoken about the fact that this might be the game they're going to get tested in, they stand up and get counted.

“Against the Reds they made a massive statement and (against the Waratahs) they made an even bigger statement about how they want to play and what they want to get right. So what have I picked up? This is a good Lions side, a really talented and well prepared Lions side, and we have no illusions of not knowing what's awaiting us on Tuesday evening.”

Lions head coach Warren Gatland has named three Lions debutants in his starting XV, with English trio Billy Twelvetrees, Brad Barritt and Christian Wade all involved after their recent call ups, while 2005 and 2009 veteran Shane Williams also starts at the Canberra Stadium.

White concedes that introducing four new squad members to the backline won’t be an easy task for the tourists and he is urging his Brumbies boys to launch an early onslaught as a result.  

“There's no doubt that with four changes to their backs it's going to take a while for them to get their rhythm. What we're trying to achieve is to get into them as quickly as we can and break that rhythm down,” added White.

“The nice thing that we do have is a group of players that's been together for a while now and their cohesion will hopefully bode well for us in the first half of the game so we can get some sort of go-forward there.

“We know how dangerous (Williams) is and it's not too bad when you can call a guy who's come to do some radio work to come and play for you and he's got 60-something Test tries. That really highlights just how good he was.

“And as much as is made of the new guys arriving, there's still 580 caps of Test rugby that still want to play in the second Test. When I coached the World Cup final we had 649 Test caps in the Springbok side and at that point it was the most-capped Springbok side in South African rugby. So when you put that in perspective and you have 580 Test caps playing against you then you realise how much experience there is. You look at what the Lions have and you realise how tough it’s going to be.”

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