Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Experience key for Lions - Farrell

Andy Farrell is confident the Lions' experience will count for a lot against Australia

Andy Farrell believes the British and Irish Lions' bumper collection of experienced and mature Test match players will "count for a lot" in Saturday's showdown against Australia.

The Lions' starting line-up at Suncorp Stadium averages more than 50 caps per man, compared with under 35 for the Wallabies. And in an eagerly awaited first Test full of fine margins between potential success and failure, the Lions' battle-hardened edge could prove significant.

"Experience counts for a lot in big games because they have been there and done that," Lions assistant coach Farrell said. "Australia have got some world-class players, and so have we. What you generally find when you come to a game like this is the performance levels rise another 10 to 15 per cent, and the more experience you have in your side the better."

He added: "It was great looking around the team room today and seeing who is going into battle with you."

The Lions completed their preparations in pouring rain at an east Brisbane school, with Farrell dismissing any concerns about flanker Tom Croft and centre Jonathan Davies, who did not train.

"We had two really intense, physical sessions yesterday, and Tom has just got some inflammation within his toe," he added. "It's nothing to worry about. The important thing is he trained yesterday and got through the two sessions, and the important thing to do was to give him some rest for tomorrow.

"Jonathan didn't train either today. That was just because of stiffness from the two sessions yesterday, but he's fine."

When the Lions last played a Test match in Brisbane 12 years ago, they blew Australia away 29-13 before suffering successive defeats in Melbourne and Sydney, which was followed by Test series losses against New Zealand and South Africa in 2005 and 2009 respectively.

Since that glory night at the Gabba, the Lions can reflect on just one win in eight Tests. It is a sequence they are hell-bent on improving.

"We realise what all the hard work over the past six weeks has been for. It is about tomorrow, and you can tell it is Test week by the buzz about the place," Farrell said. "There is an excitement among the players and an intensity in the way that they train, and their work ethic both on and off the training field is at a different level. It has certainly been a great week."

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