Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Preparation key for Price

The first Test between the Lions and Australia takes place on June 22

Australian rugby has shown a lack of respect to the British Lions by fielding weakened teams on the current tour, according to one of the game's greats.

Former Wales prop Graham Price believes Sam Warburton's men could go into the first Test a week on Saturday "undercooked" as a result. The Lions have played four matches against regional sides in Australia and so far they have run in 28 tries, scored 214 points and have an average scoreline of 53-9.

Price is worried that the Australians have been deliberately lulling the Lions and coach Warren Gatland into a false sense of security. The Lions play New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday with what is expected to be close to their Test team but Price said: "Against Western Force (Lions won 69-17) their coach didn't even put his best 15 on the pitch."

He added: "The Western Force side seemed to play a deliberately weakened side to save their players for the game on the following Saturday. Lions tours are something special and we should be playing against meaningful opposition every single match.

"The first Lions tour I went on we had 24 matches and every single game the opposition came at us as hard as they could from start to finish. Even if we won comfortably we knew we had been in a game. It was that intense.

"At the moment we're not getting to a level which sees the combinations come through and a pattern."

Price won 41 caps for Wales as a tighthead prop and played a record 12 successive Tests for the Lions spanning the 1977 and 1983 tours of New Zealand and the 1980 trip to South Africa.

He was part of the renowned Pontypool front row which also comprised Bobby Windsor and Charlie Faulkner and when asked if Australian sides had shown a lack of respect to the Lions ethos he said: "I believe so. They get the opportunity to play against the Lions every 12 years. For these players it will be the only time they will play against them. They should be given that opportunity.

"It is a meaningful exercise but the way they have approached these games, especially the last game against the Combined Country XV (which the Lions won 64-0) when they played against amateur players and part-timers it was not the best thing for the Lions or for Australian rugby."

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