DFP – Header Code

Video: Lions ready to step up on Wednesday, says Howley

Playing the Blues on Wednesday will be a step up from the Tour opener but Lions assistant coach Rob Howley knows his side are ready for the challenge.

“We will see improvements on Wednesday night, I have got no doubts about that.”

The Lions kicked off their Tour of New Zealand last weekend with a hard-fought victory over the NZ Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei.

Now the squad have returned to Auckland to prepare for Wednesday’s clash with the Blues at Eden Park.

Head Coach Warren Gatland has named an entirely new starting XV for the clash – the Lions first ever against a Kiwi Super Rugby side – and Howley is feeling confident.

“We want to improve on the performance on Saturday,” he said.

Download our Official App for iPhone or Android!

“Having been involved in the last two Lions Tours, that is the challenge – coming together in terms of the way we want to play, getting an understanding of our players – it’s a work in progress.

“We are still working on our foundations, putting in principles of the way we want to play and having a framework whereby the players have the ability to play what is in front of them.

DFP – In Article MPU

“We will see improvements on Wednesday night, I have got no doubts about that.”

Against the NZ Provincial Barbarians the Lions only had had one lineout in the opposition half but there were nine scrums from which to attack.

And while a couple of try-scoring opportunities were squandered in the slippery conditions – Howley wants his side to show a more ruthless edge on Wednesday.

“We want to be clinical, relentless in our process and ruthless because in a couple of weeks we are playing against the most ruthless side in world rugby,” he added.

“As we said during the last couple of days, we might not have that number of scrums again, we might only have two and we need to be clinical.

“That is the work on, the progress we have to work on and we continue to do that whilst playing games week in, week out.

“That is something you embrace as a Lions coach and a Lions player.”

The Blues come into the clash at near enough full strength with eight All Blacks in their starting XV – including Sonny Bill Williams who has shaken off a knee injury to be included.

The Lions include some familiar combinations with Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje in the second row, Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar in the half backs and Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne in midfield.

And Howley insists his side are itching to prove themselves against the quality opposition that Tana Umaga’s side represent.

“It’s a step up and something you look forward to, playing against players for their provincial team,” he added.

“There are players that want to be in the All Blacks side and Sonny Bill Williams is one of them.

“They are a very physical side, they are quite direct with great ball carrying, great footwork and that is something we are aware of defensively and we have to take our opportunities when they come.

“It is obviously going to be a step up, we are aware of that, it’s seven days since we have arrived and it’s a game we can look forward to and hopefully improve on Saturday’s performance.

“When you have those partnerships, familiarity is important. we feel we have a hugely talented squad. Probably one of the strongest we have picked in the last 12 years and we are fortunate to work with them, we want them to go out and play.”

DFP – Right Hand Side MPU

DFP – Half Page

Partners & Suppliers

    Regional Sponsors

    Media Partners