Warren Gatland believes that the British and Irish Lions dented the Springboks’ ego in their warm-up game against South Africa ‘A’.
The Lions fell to a narrow four-point loss against a South Africa ‘A’ side packed full of Rugby World Cup winners, in what has been dubbed as an unofficial fourth test match.
Although the hosts were victorious on that occasion, Gatland claimed at a press conference today that his side dented the South African’s confidence as they nullified their threat in the scrum and in lineout mauls.
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 21, 2021
‘Near the end of the game we felt we really dominated them.’
“I think in that ‘A’ game we were very happy with the way our lineout went and our maul defence and the way we scrummaged,” Gatland commented.
“In a couple of scrums near the end of the game we felt we really dominated them, so whether they come with different variations? I don’t think so, I think they’ll come with a harder approach.
“That’s one aspect where we probably dented a little bit of their ego as they didn’t have the dominance in those two areas that they would have liked.”
Team changes from the Lions vs South Africa ‘A’ game.
The Springboks have named nine players who started for South Africa ‘A’ against the Lions last Wednesday in their starting team for the first test, with captain Siya Kolisi and fly-half Handre Pollard the most notable changes.
Gatland has named just four players who started against South Africa ‘A’ in his Lions starting team for the first test against the Springboks.
Anthony Watson, Tom Curry, Maro Itoje and Wyn Jones are the only players to have been named in the starting teams for both games, despite Gatland’s comments about being pleased with the South Africa ‘A’ game.
The Lions head coach wasn’t afraid to make a number of big calls, as temporary tour captain Conor Murray and prolific try-scoring winger Josh Adams have both been left out of the starting team.