Warren Gatland has revealed his thinking about replacing Tadhg Beirne with Adam Beard as his lock replacement for the third Test on Saturday.
The Lions head coach believes Wales second row Beard, a late call-up for the tour following Alun Wyn Jones’ dislocated shoulder against Japan, will be better equipped to counter South Africa’s driving maul in the latter stages of the game and named him as back up for Jones and Maro Itoje.
Munster forward Beirne provided lock and back-row cover in the first two matches against the world champions, replacing blindside flanker Courtney Lawes late on in both games at Cape Town Stadium for a combined 17 minutes as a Test Lion.
Yet he was replaced on the bench for this Saturday’s decider following a resurgent Springbok pack performance in the second Test as the Lions conceded a pivotal second-half try on 60 minutes scored by Lukhanyo Am as Faf de Klerk sent through a grubber kick off the back of a surging attacking maul.
Gatland said of the Springbok maul: “They got nothing out of that first Test then they got a little bit of reward, particularly in the last 20 minutes, and a bit of momentum.
“We probably didn’t scrum as well as we could. Both of our locks have both played 80 minutes each. Adam Beard was brilliant in that (South Africa) A game from a defensive point of view. He’s a big man and he’s actually a good rugby player as well.
“I spoke to him and said that even though he missed out of the squads for the first two Tests, he was very unlucky not to start in that first Test.
“He gets a chance and hopefully adds fresh legs to come on if we do make a change.
“At this level it’s pretty tough going. Game after game of backing up. We may need some fresh legs.
“In the first games we used Courtney Lawes or Tadhg Beirne to cover that role so we’ve gone for someone who is more of a specialist in what the Springboks throw at us.”