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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 5:01pm

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Lions put Brumbies loss behind them

Team fillip as Welsh winger George North declared fit for Saturday’s test

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 8:29pm

The British & Irish Lions' stunning loss to the ACT Brumbies will not affect the team mentally, though the tourists will need to get back "on their feet" quickly before Saturday's opening test against Australia, said fullback Rob Kearney.

Kearney started his first match on the tour in Tuesday's 14-12 defeat at Canberra Stadium in a makeshift backline that failed to breach the dogged Brumbies defence for a single try.

"Most of the guys who were playing are disappointed, but it is important that we realise there is a bigger picture, which is Saturday and the three-test series," the 27-year-old Irishman said.

"We need to get back on our feet pretty quickly. We will slowly realise that this is one setback, it is not what the tour is going to be remembered for. If the 23 guys can get us back to winning ways on Saturday then [the Brumbies defeat] will be a distant memory.

"It won't affect the team mentally. This week is all about Saturday and it still is. It would have been nicer if we had won and it would have given us greater momentum and there would have been a real high spirit within the camp, but I don't think it will affect us hugely."

The loss ended the Lions' unbeaten run of five matches this tour and was their first provincial loss since being upset by Northern Transvaal in South Africa in 1997, their last victorious tour.

It was also the first win by an Australian provincial side over the Lions in more than 40 years.

Hulking Welsh winger George North, meanwhile, has been declared fit for the Saturday's test, providing a welcome boost for the tourists.

North, who was nursing a hamstring strain, passed a fitness test yesterday to make himself available for the first test at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.

"I've never seen him in better shape and he's available for selection, which is a huge fillip for us," Lions assistant coach Rob Howley said. "It's a huge morale boost to have someone like George North available for us."

The return of the 110 kg winger could set the stage for a mouth-watering showdown with Wallabies' code-hopper Israel Folau, who is expected to make his test debut in the hosts' backline.

North's Welsh teammate Jamie Roberts, however, is unlikely to be fit having sustained a hamstring strain in the win over the Waratahs last weekend.

Roberts and Irish winger Tommy Bowe, who underwent surgery on a broken bone in his hand, were in contention for the second test, said Howley.

England centre Manu Tuilagi, nursing a shoulder injury, was "touch and go", he added.

His absence would leave a likely midfield pairing of Welshman Jonathan Davies alongside Irish veteran Brian O'Driscoll at outside centre.

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