Kieran Read insists the British and Irish Lions’ future is not in doubt — no matter the result in this Test series with New Zealand.
The Lions’ very future came under scrutiny in 2005 when Clive Woodward’s men were whitewashed 3-0 on the last trip to New Zealand.
Ian McGeechan and Warren Gatland have rebuilt the famed touring side’s reputation and standing ever since, but rugby’s congested global calendar has continued to threaten the Lions’ place in the world game.
The Lions are continuing to push for extra preparation time in the final weeks leading up to future tours amid tensions over the global schedule to follow the 2019 World Cup.
Back-to-back world champions New Zealand eased past head coach Gatland’s men 30-15 in the first Test and could wrap up the series with a game to spare with victory at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium this morning — but whatever the result Read believes the 2017 Lions will not be the last to tour New Zealand.
Asked if a tough series for the Lions could jeopardise their future, Read replied: “I don’t think that will happen. It’s just been so exciting being around the country the last couple of weeks.
“It’s been awesome, the Lions are so passionate about the game and I’m sure it will continue.”
In the lead-up to this morning’s game, Johnny Sexton admitted he must work on his attitude to referees.
After coming off the bench in last Saturday’s first Test he was soon pulled up for waving his arms at Jaco Peyper after the South African official refused to give the Lions an offside penalty and the Ireland playmaker had a lengthy discussion with the referee after the final whistle.
Asked whether he needed to curb his engagements with referees ahead of his start at fly-half at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, Sexton said: “Yeah, definitely, it’s part of my game or personality that I need to work on.
“I’ve been working on it for the last 10 years so it’s been going really well,” he joked.
“Things happen in the heat of battle where you wave your arms, what I said to (Peyper) after the game was that it’s an instinctive thing to wave your arms and what I said to the ref wasn’t out of order or anything like that.
“When you pass and someone slaps a ball down, the whole team will do it. I just explained to him at the end that he gave out to me for waving my arms, but it’s an instinctive thing.”
Sexton had come into the tour lacking game time and confidence after a disappointing end to Leinster’s campaign and on arrival in New Zealand had been downbeat about his chances of earning a Test place. Performances against the Crusaders and starting in the win over the Maori All Blacks led head coach Warren Gatland to state Sexton had rediscovered his mojo.
“I was asked whether it was the biggest challenge of my career to try to get ahead of Owen (Farrell) and because of the respect I have for him I said yes.
“I’ve a big respect for him and we have a good relationship.”
“I was pretty happy with how I had been playing through the year when I was fit given the injuries I’ve had. I had a couple of bad games but there are reasons for those bad games. There’s no point in coming out with excuses, you just have to cop it on the chin. I was happy with the way I responded against the Crusaders and also against the Maori.
“I don’t lose confidence when I have a bad game because as a No. 10 there are so many factors go into playing well. Often you’re never far away from having a good game when you have a bad game.”
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