Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Lions urged to keep cool heads

The British and Irish Lions insist they will not be "drawn into silliness" after being promised a physical welcome by opening Australia tour opponents Western Force.

Force skipper Matt Hodgson and scrum-half Brett Sheehan have both promised an uncompromising approach from the Super Rugby outfit, with Sheehan claiming: "We want it to be an extremely physical game. We want them to know they've been in a battle."

Lions fly-half Owen Farrell retaliated to being struck in the face by his Saracens colleague Schalk Brits during last Saturday's clash against the Barbarians in Hong Kong.

Farrell was initially penalised, but referee Steve Walsh reversed that decision and yellow-carded Brits when big screen replays revealed fully what he did. He was banned for three weeks the following morning.

The Lions' discipline can expect to be further tested during their pre-first Test games Down Under, with the fixture against New South Wales the last time they visited Australia 12 years ago remembered as a particularly feisty encounter.

But Lions assistant coach and forwards specialist Graham Rowntree has underlined the paramount importance of maintaining discipline, while that message was also hammered home by head coach Warren Gatland to the players.

"What we have spoken about is doing your job well, not getting drawn into things," Rowntree said.

"There are enough opportunities in the game to be physical and put your mark on the game. The scrum, breakdown, tackles are all physical moments.

"We will be very strong internally. 'Gats' spoke to the team this morning. We are here to play rugby, not to be drawn into silliness."


From Belfast Telegraph