Lions hold back aces for Wallabies test today
Tourists say they have not displayed everything in the warm-up games to today's Wallabies test
The British & Irish Lions have not shown their full hand in their tour matches and Australia would do well to expect the unexpected when the two teams meet in the first test, Lions' assistant coach Andy Farrell said yesterday.
The Lions won five of their six matches and played some brilliant running rugby along the way but Farrell suggested they still had a few aces up their sleeves for today's match at Lang Park.
"We're not stupid, there's always going to be a plan there, we've got to get our own house in order, over the last six weeks, we've done a lot of learning," the defence coach said. "You don't want to show everything first up."
Many expect the Lions forwards to go in for a lot more mauling and pick-and-goes than they have so far on the tour in a bid to exhaust the Wallabies pack.
Farrell said he also expected a few surprises from the Australians at Lang Park but thought tactics were not necessarily going to be the decisive factor in the match.
"What you get when you've got two classy teams there's not one thing that will dominate," he said.
"You've good decision-makers all over the field, both sides won't just have one plan, they'll have a few ways of playing.
"But, at the end of the day, when it comes down to big games, everyone knows what wins big games. It's physicality, it's energy, it's a want to try to get over your opposition and it won't be any different [today] whatsoever."
Farrell dismissed fitness concerns about blindside flanker Tom Croft and centre Jonathan Davies, saying they had been rested from training yesterday for a sore toe and stiffness respectively after a tough double session on Thursday.
He suggested that the main threats to the Lions defence would come from scrumhalf Will Genia and the many playmakers in the Wallabies backline, while they had also discussed the Australian kicking game.
A former league and union dual international himself, Farrell said Australia were asking a lot of Israel Folau, who will start on the right wing for the Wallabies today after only a dozen games in the 15-man game.
"He is some talent. He seems to find a way of getting his hands free and offloading and making things happen," Farrell said.
"But he's played once on the wing this year. I spend a good percentage of my time with our wingers making sure they know what's needed of them as far as defence is concerned.
"It's a massive cog to the defensive system and you would think that experience helps you to do that."
Centre Brian O'Driscoll yesterday warned that Australia could pull surprises of their own.
The Irish star, returning to the scene of his greatest Lions triumph in Brisbane, said the Wallabies have clever players able to exploit the tourists, who are chasing their first series victory in 16 years and have won only two of their past nine tests.
O'Driscoll, 34, is respectful of what Robbie Deans' Wallabies may offer.
"I've said it until I am blue in the face but the Australians are probably one of the smartest teams," O'Driscoll said.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse