British & Irish Lions lock Geoff Parling says the pain of Saturday’s second Test defeat to the Qantas Wallabies will be tough to shift but he insists every single member of the squad now has their hearts set on series success in Sydney.
Parling started the 16-15 defeat at the Etihad Stadium having been a second-half replacement in Brisbane a week earlier and it was clear for all to see how much the late loss had affected him in the immediate aftermath of the match in Melbourne.
It was hard to listen to such a passionate and professional player talk about the dejection of letting a first crack at glory slip through the Lions’ fingertips but it was heartening to hear how desperate he and his colleagues are to put things right in five days’ time.
“We’ll find out how hard (it will be to turn things around) but I can tell you now we are absolutely devastated. For a lot of us, it’s the biggest game of our career to date and to come so close to winning the series, it’s more than hard to take,” said Parling after the game.
“Andy Irvine (Lions tour manager) spoke afterwards in the changing rooms that we have another crack at it, that we are almost in the same position we were in the morning and that we can still win the series. But it’s hard to take.
“We have to learn the lessons from it. We got ourselves in a good position in the game. We did fairly well throughout and they sneaked in and we still had a chance to nick it at the end.
“It’s going to take the whole squad to pull together. It’s all part of this tour and being professional. You have to get yourself back up for it again and go and play. If you can’t get up for the deciding game of the tour, then you have a bit of a problem. I’m sure we’ll get there.
“That’s what we’ve got to do, isn’t it? That’s rugby. Look, there certainly are positives to take from it… but we’ve got to get ourselves up for it. The series is still there for the taking. We have to make amends. What does it set up? Does it get any bigger than next week?
“We have one more chance, one more crack. For most of us, we might never be on a Lions tour again. For the majority of players it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There’s one more opportunity, one more in the series. We have to get on with it and have a good crack.”
Luck seemed to be shining Australia’s way on Saturday, but the hosts could argue it was facing in the opposite direction seven days earlier when two late missed kicks from Kurtley Beale could have won it for the Wallabies.
“At 15-9 with four minutes or so to go, you would take getting in that position and you then have to close out the game. We had chances to manage the game a bit better. Maybe we got a bit of luck last week and they got a bit of luck this week. We’ll see what happens next week,” added Parling.
“When we were under the posts and (Christian) Lealiifano was nudging at goal – look, I’m not a religious man but I am almost praying for him to miss it, and then sending a little prayer for Pens (Leigh Halfpenny) to knock that last one over.”