Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Farrell eases fitness concerns

Tom Croft will be fit to start for the British and Irish Lions in the first Test against Australia

The British and Irish Lions eased concerns over the fitness of Tom Croft and Jonathan Davies after they missed the final training session before Saturday's first Test against Australia.

Assistant coach Andy Farrell insisted that England flanker Croft and Wales centre Davies were rested as a precautionary measure and that both would start the series opener at the Suncorp Stadium.

"Tom has a little bit of inflammation on his toe that's nothing to worry about whatsoever." Farrell said. "The important thing is that he trained yesterday and got through the two sessions. The right thing to do is to give him a rest so that he's fine for tomorrow. Jonathan Davies didn't train either because of the intensity of the two sessions. It's just stiffness. Owen Farrell ran there insisted, but it will be fine."

The Lions have been installed favourites to complete their first triumphant tour for 16 years and avenge their 2-1 series defeat by Australia in 2001.

Their starting XV contains 770 caps - the Wallabies' line-up contains 519 Test appearances - and Farrell takes comfort from the presence of seasoned campaigners such as Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll, Adam Jones and Mike Phillips.

"Experience in big games counts for a lot because they've been there and done it. Australia have some world class players and we do too," he said.

"What you generally get when you come to an occasion like this is the performance levels rise another 10-15 per cent. The more experience you have like that the better.

"When you looked around the team meeting today to see who is going to go into battle with you, it gives you great pleasure.

"After all the hard work we've done over the last six weeks, we know that this is what it's all been for. You can tell Test week because there's a buzz about the place and an excitement among the players.

"There's an intensity about the way we train and the work ethic on and off the park is off the level. We've had a great week."

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