Rob Howley: We've got some plays up our sleeve

By Simon Lewis, Auckland

Lions coach Rob Howley believes he can tell from the glint in the players' eyes that the time for words is over as kick-off time approaches to the series-deciding Test against the All Blacks.

With the clock counting down to the British & Irish Lions' third and final meeting with the world champions at Eden Park and a history-making first series win since 1971 on the line, attack coach Howley is confident that after last Saturday's famous 24-21 second Test victory over New Zealand in Wellington, the players will not need any further emotional motivation.

After three days away from Auckland in the mountain resort town of Queenstown and a steady increase in intensity that has followed in training since, Howley believes the Lions were at the right emotional pitch a little over 24 hours ahead of Saturday's game and nothing more needed to be said by Warren Gatland and his coaching staff. From there on in, it was down to the players led by tour captain Sam Warburton.

“You can see a glint in the players' eyes today in training. Warby got them in a circle afterwards.

“There's been a glint in the players' eyes since Saturday night in Wellington, and that glint hasn't gone away. Because they know they can create history. And that's the challenge and the realisation of where we are at this moment in time.

"I think when you look at the 23, there's nine players who experienced (the Lions' series win over Australia in) 2013, the number of caps within the team, it's a lot of experience and in big games.

"The big Test match players will be key on the weekend so it's trusting your players and the experience they bring.

“The players have grasped it this week, Johnny (Sexton), Conor (Murray), Owen (Farrell), Maro (Itoje), Alun Wyn (Jones), Mako (Vunipola), they know what needs to be done and how to do it. That experience is vital. Emotion will come naturally on the weekend. They're in the right place physically.”

The Lions have outscored the All Blacks by four tries to three over the first two Tests and the attack coach thinks there is more to come from a backline controlled by Sexton and Farrell as a 10-12 combination.

“We've got some plays up our sleeve. We've continually worked off the field, pictures and shapes we've seen defensively from the All Blacks.

"We got to the outside edge a couple of times with good intent and ambition last Saturday.

"Early in the tour we were disappointed with the chances we were creating but I think last week in terms of clarity and ruthlessness, we were quite clinical.

"We got into the All Blacks 22 seven times and we've come away with 18 points. We need to improve on that. You have to take every chance, and it's going to be a great game on the weekend.”


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