Warren Gatland Discuses All The Changes He Has Made For The Third Test
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Following a disappointing defeat for the Lions in the second Test on Saturday, we all called for changes – and Warren Gatland has delivered.
The British and Irish Lions boss has made new fewer than six changes to his starting XV with a number of adjustments also made to the bench as the New Zealander looks to clinch the series on the final day.
In come Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Bundee Aki, Josh Adams, Ali Price, and Liam Williams to the starting team, with the likes of Sam Simmonds, Finn Russell and Adam Beard added to the replacements bench.
So what was the specific reasoning behind all the changes?
“We just felt that there were certain things from the weekend in terms of, particularly the aerial battle. We just got nothing out of that. That was one of the areas,” Gatland told us.
“We were disappointed with the last 20 minutes when we gave away eight penalties, four of them we considered were pretty needless and ones that we shouldn’t have given away.
“We’re not complaining about the result, in fairness to South Africa they finished strongly. It was a tight game.
We were happy with the first half and where we were. At 60 minutes on the clock, there’s nothing in the game.
“We just felt that Wyn Jones was very unlucky, he picked up that injury in the first Test. He’s fit and it’s that combination between Wyn and Ken in the front row. Ali did pretty well in the first test so we’ve swapped our nines around.
“Bundee and Robbie have a pretty familiar combination and the midfield has always been a bit of a debate for us. We looked at the physicality that Bundee brought in the ‘A’ game and the combination of those two working together. It gives Robbie the chance to move one out.”
And what about their style of play? Saturday’s game wasn’t exactly a thriller and it looks like the Lions are out to fix that this weekend.
“We definitely want to play some more rugby and we just didn’t get that opportunity in the second half,” Gatland added.
“The first-half we got some of the bounces we did in the first test in terms of the aerial stuff. Basically, we got nothing from the air in the second half.
“South Africa kicked the ball 22 times in the second half, we’ve only kicked it 10 times.
“We’ve tried to go out there, get some momentum and play some rugby, but we just never got into the game in that last 20 minutes or so.
“That’s why there have been the changes. Finn Russell comes onto the bench because he’s a little bit different. The two 10s are very good at what they do but are quite similar and he offers us something different.”