Big mental shift for B&I Lions in Cape Town
SPOTLIGHT: British and Irish Lions hooker Ken Owens says there has been a shift in mentality in the Lions’ camp since they arrived in Cape Town.
After three matches on the Highveld, the Lions’ players are being put through their paces in a wet and cold Cape Town as the three-Test series draws nearer.
“It has been a little bit easier training at sea level, which has been a help and obviously the temperatures have dropped here in Cape Town,” said Owens.
“We are getting closer to that Test series. By moving to Cape Town there has been that step up in intensity and focus.
“We got South Africa ‘A’ then the Stormers and then the block of the Test series. There has definitely been a mentality shift and you can feel it building here.
“Once we got down to Cape Town, we knew we were getting in the business end of the tour.”
Meanwhile, British and Irish Lions attack coach Gregor Townsend has had to resort to virtual coaching as the tourists prepare stage on their South African tour.
Townsend stayed behind in quarantine in Johannesburg because of Covid-19 when the Lions moved to Cape Town at the weekend.
The former Scotland flyhalf is only expected to rejoin the squad on Wednesday, too late to play a hands-on role in the build-up to what could be a crunch encounter against a Springbok-laden South Africa ‘A’ team at Cape Town Stadium.
It will be the fourth match for the Lions after runaway wins over depleted franchises the Lions and the Sharks, who faced the tourists twice.
Kicking coach Neil Jenkins said on Tuesday that Townsend had been communicating by the Zoom conferencing app, adding that his absence had not been a major problem.
He said the other coaches had been able to pass on Townsend’s information to the players in training.
“It’s all of us. Gats [head coach Warren Gatland] leads everything as he always does, [defence coach] Steve [Tandy] and myself and the players.
“We have got some fantastic players here who can lead both on and off the pitch. Everyone’s linking in, everyone’s helping out.”