Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Jones expecting tough test

The British and Irish Lions will touch down on Australian soil on Monday ready for the challenges that await them in "a massive sports country".

After putting an appointment with the Barbarians behind them, they kick off nine games Down Under against Western Force in Perth on Wednesday. Their target is a Test series victory over the Wallabies, which the Lions last achieved in 1989. They have not enjoyed a series triumph against any opponent for 16 years.

"The Australian sides will be more organised and more structured, it is a massive sports country," Lions and Wales prop Adam Jones said. "I expect Western Force to be strong. It's a massive thing to play the Lions, a huge deal for them. They won't shy away from the challenge, which is what you would expect."

While the Barbarians game took its toll in terms of unrelenting stamina-sapping conditions, the Lions reported no fresh injury concerns as they packed their bags for an eight-hour flight.

Their 59-8 success, scoring eight tries, was in stark contrast to the South Africa tour opener of four years ago when the Lions struggled against a scratch Royal XV in Rustenburg before prevailing 37-25.

"Four years ago, we were disappointing in the first game, but we played well (against the Barbarians). We knew what we had to do to wear them down," Jones added.

"You could see them beginning to struggle around the fringes, and we knew we could pull away. When we scored a couple of tries in the second-half, that happened.

"We messed up a few calls in the lineout, but we are still getting used to them. It was a good game, if a bit warm.

"I think they struggled more than us, but it was a good hit-out. A lot of us haven't played for a good few weeks. For Richie Gray to get through 80 minutes having not played since the Six Nations spoke volumes."

Lions head coach Warren Gatland will unveil his team to face Western Force on Monday, with wholesale changes expected and first tour starts anticipated for the likes of Brian O'Driscoll, Manu Tuilagi, Leigh Halfpenny, Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip.


From Belfast Telegraph