Nerves will vanish after KO

Gavin Hastings says it is right now that the British & Irish Lions and the Qantas Wallabies will be battling nerves and anxiety rather than when tonight's decisive third Test kicks off at 8pm local time (11am BST). [more]

Nerves will vanish after KO

Gavin Hastings says it is right now that the British & Irish Lions and the Qantas Wallabies will be battling nerves and anxiety rather than when tonight’s decisive third Test kicks off at 8pm local time (11am BST).

Hastings was part of the last Lions Test team to secure series success in Australia in 1989, when Sir Ian McGeechan’s men battled back from 1-0 down to edge the final fixture 19-18 in Sydney.

The former Scotland full back faced the same situation as Lions captain in New Zealand four years later but this time the All Blacks came out on top in another nail biting encounter.

Both games were massive occasions, but the growth in Lions popularity and the fact that the Lions haven’t won a series since 1997 makes this evening’s match even more high-profile. More than 80,000 fans will pack into the ANZ Stadium for the series climax yet Hastings insists both sets of players will be able to block out the external factors, at least once we’re underway in New South Wales.

“When the game takes place, you as a player to do everything you can do to get yourself into a position to score points, the mental thing is not a factor when the game is on,” said Hastings.

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“The mental well being and whatever else is always in the lead up to the game. It’s the night before the Test, the morning of the Test, but once you’re there, that mental thing goes out of the window because you’re concentrating on what’s going on.

“You’ve got to go through that mental anguish of sh****ng yourself basically before a game. I never found a way to overcome that. This game is massive. This is the biggest game in this country for 10 years, since the Rugby World Cup Final. This game is as big as a Rugby World Cup Final.”

The World Cup Final that Hastings refers to was won in the most dramatic of circumstances when Jonny Wilkinson drop kicked England to glory with just seconds of extra time remaining. That match was also against Australia and it took place at the same stadium that will host tonight’s thriller, with Hastings now predicting an equally tight outcome on the Lions’ 125th anniversary adventure.

“I am not as despondent about the Lions’ chances of winning as I thought I would be having lost last week because I believe the team that’s been picked is stronger than the team that was picked last week and we only lost by one point,” added Hastings.

“The Lions know that they’ve haven’t really performed in the first two Tests and they’ve got to raise their game big time to even have a chance. Make no mistake, the quality and the standard of play by either side will have to be way up in order to give themselves a chance. If either team plays like they’ve played for the last two weeks they will lose.

“I hope they’ll win. I don’t think they won’t win but that’s not quite the same, though, is it? The game’s too close to call.”

Gavin Hastings is an HSBC ambassador. HSBC is proud Principal Partner of The British & Irish Lions on their Tour to Australia. Visit  www.youtube.com/LionsHSBC for exclusive video content from The Lions Tour.

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