Sport

Warburton nearing fitness as Lions build towards first Test

Warburton nearing fitness as Lions build towards first Test”

Gatland said illegal blocking had prevented the Lions from scoring more tries in the five tour matches played so far, adding that he had raised the issue with referee Jaco Peyper, who was in charge during the Lions' dominant 32-10 win over the Maori All Blacks on Saturday.

Per Charlie Talbot-Smith of the Lions' website, Gatland said: "The players can put themselves in the frame for potential selection for Saturday, we will need players to double up, and for later in the Tour".

The Chiefs will be a tough prospect for the Lions. There's been no let-up, but the Irish and two-time Lions defence coach has embraced the hard and daunting schedule, and says the same is true for the rest of the coaching and management staff.

The other five new call-ups - Scotland's Allan Dell along with Gareth Davies, Kristian Dacey, Cory Hill and Tomas Francis from Wales - were all named among the replacements and can expect to get game time.

Gatland's allegations are sure to raise hackles in the All Blacks' camp, particularly after he said New Zealand coach Steve Hansen was "worried" about the improving Lions.

Gatland says Kiwi players are adept at subtle blocking or holding methods on support runners which cause attacks to break down.

"I can understand why Warren Gatland has done what he has", McGeechan said.

There is much left to be decided on the make-up of the Lions' Test team. "It's about making sure we identify who's voice is calling it as well". "The ones who deserve to be there, who would give their right arms to be there, rather than some players purely because they happen to be in the right geographical location". Gatland insisted that the practice of wilful obstruction is more prevalent in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world.

"I don't think it's just New Zealand teams". The tactic of using scrumhalf Conor Murray to repeatedly kick into the box worked against the Maori on a dewy night in Rotorua but is thought less likely to succeed against the All Blacks.

"The players enjoy it, they buzz off one another. We would have won that game if that try had been allowed".

Kaino made a sound return to rugby in Friday's 78-0 drubbing of Samoa at Eden Park, having sat out the previous six weeks with a knee injury. It was a great time to be in New Zealand then, and it's a similar feeling this time round.

The Lions boss said: "The frustrating thing for us is the amount of blocking that's going on".

"If you listen to the ref mic, they were talking about it constantly through the (Maori) game".



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