British & Irish Lions’ Alun Wyn Jones warns of All Blacks backlash ahead of third test
Second rower braced for a thrilling final test
Alun Wyn Jones is bracing for a furious All Blacks backlash when the British & Irish Lions arrive in Auckland for Saturday’s third Test series decider.
But first the Wales lock is allowing himself a moment to savour the Lions’ 24-21 win over a 14-man New Zealand in Wellington.
Jones was at the heart of an impressive display by the Lions pack at Westpac Stadium, more than justifying his selection after a lacklustre performance in the opening test had critics calling for his head.
The 31-year-old said the tourists needed to rest and regroup before a clash with the back-to-back world champions in Auckland that will see them chase the first Lions series victory in New Zealand since 1971.
“We’ve got to make sure we enjoy this win because I’ve had similar occasions in the past and not enjoyed them,” he told reporters before the squad headed to the South Island resort town of Queenstown for a break.
“We’ll get the best out of everyone if we do enjoy it. Work sometimes becomes an obsession and that’s not good. You have to realise where you are and what you’re doing.”
But he warned his teammates needed to be back at their best against the wounded All Blacks at Eden Park, where the hosts have not lost since 1994.
“It’s still a level series and that’s all it is at the moment. We stepped up from the first test and there’s no doubt that they’ll do that this week. We need to build on this and be ready,” he said.
“We’re 1-1 and we’ve got a big week ahead. We need to switch off and recover, but then we’ll look at those penalties and certain areas where we can probably play a little bit wider.”
Jones was heartened that the Lions forwards finally combined to show what they were capable of as a unit in Wellington after performing only in fits and starts for much of the tour.
“Individual people make packs and when you do your individual role in that you get a complete pack,” he said. “For the large part there was a lot of that, particularly in the first half.
“We have showed our physicality in spurts. Against the Crusaders I think we showed what we could do as a pack. We answered some questions again (in Wellington).
“On the whole, the performance wasn’t complete, but we’ll patch those areas up because we’re going to be facing an All Blacks team that’s chomping at the bit next week.”
Jones has previous experience of a Lions decider after captaining the side to a convincing 41-16 third test win over Australia in Sydney in 2013 to seal the series 2-1.
He said that experience taught him that the Lions did not need to change their preparation radically for this weekend’s high-stakes game but they must maintain their focus.
“We know what’s at stake and the intensity in the game will go up again, as it did four years ago,” he said.
“Very little will change from our point of view. I don’t see why we can’t improve.