Warren Gatland praised the finishing instincts of Josh Adams after the Wales wing amassed four tries in the British and Irish Lions’ 56-14 victory over the Sigma Lions at Emirates Airline Park.
Adams produced all four of his touch downs in the second half as the Lions launched their tour on South African soil with an eight-try rout of the weakest opponents they will face.
It lifts his total to five in two starts after also unpicking Japan’s defence a week ago and the 26-year-old is in pole position to claim one of the wing spots against the Springboks on July 24.
“Josh definitely knows where the tryline is and you can’t ignore what he’s achieved as a player,” Gatland said.
“He was the top tryscorer at the 2019 World Cup. He played for Worcester when they were bottom of the Premiership but he was still top tryscorer in the Premiership. That speaks for itself.
“His timing with that inside ball for the first try, he did that a few times during the World Cup. He’s got great timing at hitting the line. To get four tries is pretty special for him.”
Scum-halves Ali Price and Gareth Davies, wing Louis Rees-Zammit and man-of-the-match Hamish Watson also crossed, while Owen Farrell landed all eight conversions.
Josh definitely knows where the tryline is and you can't ignore what he's achieved as a player,Warren Gatland
And after the agony of losing Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric to injury against Japan last Saturday, Gatland was able to deliver a clean bill of health despite a physical encounter in Johannesburg.
It was an afternoon bursting with positives, but Gatland will not be seduced by the rout knowing from past experience that far tougher tests await.
“My memories of 2009….I won’t forget that when we didn’t come up against any of South Africa’s Test players in those warm-up games,” Gatland said.
“We probably were a little bit underdone in 2009 so we’re going to have to work really hard in training to make sure we have the tempo and physicality that’s required.
“There’s no doubt that some of the games are going to be a little bit harder, hopefully, but we understand there’s a number of players out of their Super sides because they’re in with the Springbok camp.
“The positive thing from this game is that there’s still lots of things to work on. We’ve been getting better and better as a squad the more time we spend together.
“We put down bit of a marker but we know as a group that we won’t be 100 per cent satisfied until we show lots of improvements, but we feel we can get there and make lots of improvements too.
“The competition is huge. We’re not really trying to predict what the Test side looks like. We’re trying to let that unfold and see how the players keep performing and playing, how the combinations work.
“Then we’ll start looking at our options. We definitely don’t want to pigeon-hole anyone. We’re keeping an open mind about how we play and how we keep improving.”