Farrell: Lions face a Test of character
Saturday’s clash with the All Blacks is a test of character for the Lions according to Andy Farrell – who has backed his charges to come through it with flying colours.
“It is about manning up and putting everyting on the line.”
The Lions lost at Eden Park last weekend as New Zealand took a 1-0 lead in the three Test series with an impressively powerful display.
A week later and attentions have turned to Wellington and the Westpac Stadium where the Lions know the Test series is on the line against the world champions.
And Farrell insists his side are simmering in anticipation of a much-improved showing on Saturday night.
“We have had a lot more time to reflect, review and put to the bed the first Test and taking the learning from it and move onto this one,” he said.
“The boys, it has been good to see a real ownership in what they want to achieve and they have done that really well.
“It is about character for us this week, it is about manning up and putting everyting on the line because it is that situation isn’t it? It’s do or die for us.
“These guys are a little bit hurt, in the way, the manner of the game and we will see what we are made of this week.
“After the game there is a sense of we let that one slip, we let them off the hook and hopefully we have learned that lesson and can give a better account of ourselves this week.”
Warren Gatland has made three changes to the side that lost the first Test, and in the backline Farrell’s son Owen slides to inside centre with Jonathan Sexton taking over at fly half.
And while the duo have not started a game together on this Tour, they played in tandem for much of the victory over the Crusaders and in the second half of last week’s first Test defeat.
And their partnership has Farrell licking his lips about what options it opens up for the team as a whole.
“It has been seamless,” he added.
“There has been a lot made of the axis but it is about the bigger picture and the team, having another experienced voice and eyes and ears out there to make team function.
“They are very similar, both obviously big students of the game who have won a lot of things along the way.
“More than anything it is how they make the people feel around them, the energy that they bring.
“They train a lot together, they have been joined at the hip for the last five weeks, constantly talking about rugby and they have roomed together.
“They live and breathe rugby and it will be seamless I am sure.”
— British&Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) June 29, 2017
And while the All Blacks chose a direct game plan last week, Farrell knows better than to expect exactly the same again a week later.
“They did an excellent job in doing that, it was not just Sonny Bill (Williams), everyone in the team that played a direct game.
“If I just concentrated on one player or one way of playing that the All Blacks did last week then I would be a fool.
“Because they are the masters at not doing the same thing twice, albeit physicality will still be a part of anyone’s game in a Test match of this magnitude.
“But we have to be ready for all outcomes.
“It will take five different twists and turns along the way in the game and we have to be able to manage that on the hop.”