How heavy will Gatland's axe be?
REACTION: Warren Gatland is guaranteed to make changes to the British and Irish Lions team for the decisive third Test against South Africa.
Exactly how heavy that axe will be, remains to be seen.
B&I Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones admitted that Gatland is “notorious” for making changes.
He was speaking as the tourists looked to pick up the pieces from their shattering 9-27 loss to the Springboks in Cape Town at the weekend – a result that levelled the three-match series a one-all.
It was the B&I Lions’ heaviest defeat since the calamitous 2005 expedition to New Zealand – when the All Blacks smashed them 48–18 in the second Test of that series.
Jones warned the Boks that his team is determined to restore their wounded pride.
He admitted Gatland will swing the axe in response to a feeble second-half performance in which 21 unanswered points were conceded, but is convinced the series can be rescued when the tour reaches its climax.
“It’s obviously going to be the biggest week of the tour now,” the B&I Lions skipper said.
“It’s the last chance to put it right.
“We’re fortunate we’ve got another week.
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“There has been a lot said about a wounded Springbok, but I think the Lions have taken a dent and we need to put it right.
“Immediately after the game we got together and said we had to stick together.
“There was a lot of eye contact.
“Everyone is well aware that Warren will make changes – he’s notorious for making changes – and we go again.
“There will probably be opportunities for some and there’s definitely a feeling we can probably put it right.
“It will be interesting to see what Warren does with the team. But definitely, it’s going to be a big week.”
The game was marked by repeated stoppages by officials to review incidents was hard viewing and each half lasted over an hour.
The breaks aided the Springboks, while preventing the Lions from injecting any pace into the game.
“We obviously talked about tempo, it’s what we saw last week, and we tried to do that. But we weren’t able to do it.
“That’s because of the Springboks’ game management. Ultimately we go when the whistle’s on.
“A lot has been said in the week about speaking to the man in the middle so I tried to be as respectful as I could to try and get that tempo in the game, but I obviously failed at that.”
Jones insists it was the Lions’ failings rather than South Africa’s response following their defeat in the first Test that led to their downfall.
“From the outside, it probably looked like a backlash, but from where I’m sitting here we didn’t help ourselves,” Jones said.
“We were well aware of what they were going to improve on. They probably did to us what we wanted to do to them. They tried to do it last week, they probably just did it better and we saw more of it.”
Source: PA & RugbyPass