Sam Warburton fit to lead British and Irish Lions against Highlanders


They were tidier and tighter in every aspect of their game, but particularly their lineout.

As hard as this is for me, a former Crusader, to say, I think the Lions' victory was a good thing for the tour.

"I've learned from experience that it takes me at least two games and then the third game I'll probably be playing some good rugby but Gats [coach Warren Gatland] knew that".

"It feels it's audition time for the Test series".

Backrower Luke Whitelock, who will captain the Highlanders against the Lions only three days after his brother Sam captained the Crusaders, says his team will throw everything at the tourists. The problem, of course, is there are doubts which persist over whether that is the case.

But not so. Instead, we saw a Lions side, perhaps galvanised by the criticism received after their defeat to the Blues, produce a gutsy display firmly in keeping with the jersey's glorious past.

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Matt Todd of the Crusaders is tackled by Sean O'Brien and Jamie George. That's why these 80 minutes at Forsyth Barr Stadium are so vital for the man who led the Lions on their successful tour of Australia in 2013. It seems to me that the way for the Lions to win the first test is to play exactly the same way - dominate the set piece and defend with organisation and aggression.

With the Tests in mind, the Lions made points a priority and Farrell landed three penalties in the first half to one for the Crusaders by Richie Mo'unga. "That is me being brutally honest". "We felt we'd improved in the second half and it was another step up tonight ..."

"I think the Highlanders have got the underlining physicality. I thought performance wise it was good".

Following the much-needed and morale-boosting win over the Crusaders, the British and Irish Lions are in Dunedin to face the Highlanders - Super Rugby champions as recently as 2015.

The fly-half, who helped the Aviva Premiership side to European glory this season, converted three first-half penalties in Christchurch before splitting the posts for a fourth time with just ten minutes remaining to secure a 12-3 win for Warren Gatland's side.

There is buzz and there is excitement and little fear as the Highlanders prepare to take on the British and Irish Lions on Tuesday.

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"We as players have to have thick skins and we are all experienced players as well so we are used to dealing with that".

"He's looking forward to the opportunity to get back on the park again".

"But we are ready to get battle-hardened for a test match, we are still ramping it up in training because we have to be up to breakneck speed for the first test".

If he comes through in Dunedin, Warburton will be in the first of those two categories.

Biggar feels he now trails Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell in the fly-half race - but coach Andy Farrell believes the Ospreys man has been too hard on himself. The business end of the tour is fast approaching.

They're stretching sides out wide but have been unable to consistently get the final pass to hand or make the right decision in terms of getting over the line.

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One of those experts included former West Indies' 1975 and 1979 World Cup-winning captain Clive Lloyd. The way they turned things around, it was incredible .

"We haven't seen a whole lot of turnovers".