Sam Warburton is almost certain the Springboks won’t be able to stop the British & Irish Lions from winning one of the remaining two Tests to clinch the series.
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The former Wales and British & Irish Lions flanker attended an online fundraising event for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and, together with Lions attack coach Gregor Townsend, he spoke about preparations ahead of the second Test.
“There are only a handful of times a year you can really emotionally peak for a game when there is so much pressure and so much emotion behind it. You can’t do that thirty times a year. The Lions have got all the talent in the world.
“It’s just getting yourself physically and mentally in the right place. Most of the hard work is done. It’s just about making sure the boys are primed and ready, tick all the boxes in training, get the tactics right and then it’s just trust the players and go and make sure you’re physically, mentally right.
“It’s just one more 80-minute push that they need, whether it’s this weekend, whether it’s next weekend. I’m 99% certain they’ll get the job done in one of the next two games.
“You’ve got to put yourself out into that uncomfortable place for a short moment of time that when you come out of the other side, they’ll set their names in Lions history and folklore forever. It’s a massive effort but I’m very sure that they’ll do.”
Asked whether the Lions have the blueprint to beat the Boks, Townsend did not go so far as to say they did, only that the first Test had influenced selections for the second.
“I think the first 20 minutes of any Test match is usually more conservative, whether it’s a Six Nations game or a Lions Test series, especially when you’re playing against a conservative team like the Springboks. You’ve got to create opportunities and you’ve got to take the right opportunities at any time you can.
“But what we found in the second half is that we exited much better. So, after our restarts Ali Price’s kicks were excellent. It actually reminded me when Duhan van der Merwe had a couple of tackles, just after the No 8 had caught the ball.
“And all it did, as it didn’t win us back possession, but the psychological boost you get when your exits are turning into huge gains – that’s what flipped the game, I think.
“The way the forwards carried in that second half got us lots of rewards, and created a bit more space and we started to get penalties, too.
“We’d like those opportunities to turn into linebreaks and to turn into tries, but in Tests matches if you’re getting three points, or an opportunity to kick to the corner, like we did in the second half, then sometimes that’s all you need to win the game.”
Predicting the result of the second Test, Warburton felt the Lions simply have too much class for the Boks.
“I think South Africa will be absolutely rampant the first 20-30 minutes and I think if the Lions can go in at half time within five to seven points, they’ll have enough to win the game.
“I think South Africa will throw the kitchen sink [at them] and the Lions will come back, because they’ll hit that emotional peak. It’ll be almost damage control for the first 20 minutes, but then if the Lions are within five to seven points, they’ll run away with it. They’ve got too much class.”