Sunday, October 24

Lions have little time to reflect on a promising start in South Africa | British and Irish lions

TThe moment of reflection is about to become a precious luxury for the British and Irish Lions as they enter the most hectic stage of their tour of South Africa. On Monday they will name the team for their first midweek game of the trip against the Sharks on Wednesday and by Saturday of the week they will have played five games in three cities in fifteen days.

Even those who impressed in Saturday’s opening 56-14 win against the Johannesburg Sigma Lions at Ellis Park understand how quickly perceptions can change. With all those who have yet to start a game about to do so, Warren Gatland has already made clear that it is too early to begin inking his selection options for the first Test against the Springboks on July 24.

No one can deny, however, that Josh Adams and Hamish Watson made strong arguments for the inclusion of the test team on the left wing and the open flank respectively, while Courtney Lawes also put up a considerable score. Even at this distance, it would appear that the Lions will be eager to select a great No. 6 to bolster their lineup options and it’s not impossible that Lawes and Irishman Tadhg Beirne can start on the same side.

More immediately, Josh Navidi, Tom Curry and Sam Simmonds are poised to form a new rear combination against the Sharks, and only Irish center Robbie Henshaw is unavailable for selection due to a slight hamstring strain. . The competition for spots will only intensify over the next fortnight and another brilliant performance in Henshaw’s absence from Elliot Daly, a likely starter against the Sharks, could give management an additional potential option to consider.

Scotland winger Hamish Watson was named Man of the Match against Sigma Lions.
Scotland winger Hamish Watson was named Man of the Match against Sigma Lions. Photography: David Gibson / Fotosport / REX / Shutterstock

Everyone involved would love to start as well as Adams, 26, who has gone through a personal rollercoaster period to record five attempts in his first two appearances with the Lions. In February, he was removed from the Wales team for violating Covid regulations to attend a family reunion to celebrate the pregnancy of his fiancee Georgia. Since then, Wales have won the Six Nations title, made an instant impression on the Lions and the couple’s first child will be born in less than fifteen days.

The Cardiff wing has already dedicated its first four-shot run to its family: “Everything I’m doing here, all the hard work I’m doing is for them at home”, having made the collective decision that it should go. . Tour regardless of the imminent arrival of new ones. His only concern was that the excitement of Saturday’s game might cause the baby to arrive earlier than planned. “Georgia spoke to me after the game and I said, ‘Look, don’t jump too much.’ We want to wait a bit. “

Assuming the still high Covid-19 infection rates in Gauteng do not affect the tour schedule, he is also hoping to score several more attempts before the tour ends as he was already the top try scorer in the Cup. Rugby World Cup 2019. “A winger is like a striker in football: my job is to score attempts. There are other aspects of the game that are vitally important, but once you start running, you do your best to maintain it. I didn’t have to do much for one or two of them, but I guess you have to be in the right place at the right time. “

However, when it comes to clinching a bunk on the test team, it’s still philosophical. “You can only do what you can when you have the opportunity. We always say before we go out that there is no point in doing it unless you are going to enjoy the moment. It’s a special occasion for everyone, whether you’ve played for the Lions nine times and toured three times or it’s your first time. If you play with a smile on your face, you usually play good things. We definitely did sometimes. “

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