We are now less than 24 hours away from the first test of the British and Irish Lions’ tour of New Zealand and there has already been some controversy even before a ball has been kicked. With pundits expecting a real battle on the field in Auckland tomorrow the fighting talk has already begun in the pre-match press conference.
The row surrounds comments made by Lions coach Warren Gatland regarding referee Jaco Peyper and off-the-ball blocking. Gatland had indicated that he had already had a conversation about the issue with the officials. This has prompted New Zealand Steve Hansen to accuse Gatland of attempting to ‘bully’ the referee by applying pressure to a situation before the match.
He said: “The referee’s got the hardest job in the world. There is no point trying to bully the referees publicly in the media. We have a moment to meet them and we will talk about things we need to talk about in private. And he will give his interpretation of what he wants, and then it is up to us to go and deliver that.”
Hansen hinted that Gatland should talk to the referee in private rather than in the press. If I talk to the media about it, then I am applying pressure to him in the media, and that’s sort of like bullying him, and I don’t want to do that. So, I will just quietly talk to him on Friday, and certainly there are areas of the game that we will talk about.”
With mixed fortunes on the tour so far for the Lions, Gatland has opted for a more attacking team going into tomorrow’s test than what we have seen previously. Tour captain Sam Warburton drops to the bench with Irishman Peter O’Mahony being handed the armband against the world champions.
Focusing on scoring tries the team includes seven English players, four Welsh and four Irish.
The full team is as follows: L Williams (Wales); A Watson (England), J Davies (Wales), B Te’o (England), E Daly (England); O Farrell (England), C Murray (Ireland); M Vunipola (England), J George (England), T Furlong (Ireland); AW Jones (Wales), G Kruis (England); P O’Mahony (capt, Ireland), S O’Brien (Ireland), T Faletau (Wales).
Here at Champions Motivational Speakers, we have a range of former Lions legends including Neil Back MBE, Willie McBride MBE and Martin Bayfield who can discuss all the developments as the Lions tour progresses. For booking information on any of our wonderful speakers call us on +44 1509 85 29 27 or complete our online form.