June International Tours

Lions defence will have improved vows Edwards



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British and Irish Lions defence coach Shaun Edwards says that he takes the three tries that were leaked to the Royal XV on Saturday personally.

He is however confident that the work put in this week will see a turnaround in the defence fortunes of the touring team when they play the Golden Lions at Coca-Cola Park on Wednesday night.

The former rugby league player takes his job very seriously. He admitted that he feels the weight of responsibility of being a coach with the Lions.

“Of course there is responsibility and lots of expectation,” he said of his pressure.

He is, however, aware of the threat a few of the Golden Lions players will pose – notably scrumhalf Jano Vermaak whom he rates highly.

“He is a real Jack-in-the-box. I have not seen much of him, but what I did see this season has impressed me,” he said.

“They have two big centres to take the ball up, and Andre Pretorius at flyhalf has a good step. Their No 8 is also a big man and reminds me of Scott Quinnell (the big Wales eighthman of a few years ago).”

“The man to watch out for, however, is their No 9,” Edwards felt. “The defensive lapses on Saturday were partly the result of the players who have not played for four to five weeks,” Edwards pointed out.

That -and perhaps the altitude – caused them to lack energy and led to mistakes.

“Our second half was better, but we won’t be able to afford any lapses come the Tests. We must play for 80 minutes,” he said, referring to the first half where the Lions were beaten on defence and pinned in their own 22 for long periods.

Edwards was confident that the Golden Lions would not score three tries against them. “We worked hard on our defence this week.

Our defence at the lineouts will be better as we hadn’t worked on that before last Saturday’s match.”

On the Springbok side announced on Monday night, Edwards said that it was a good side.

“They have skills from No 15 to No 1.”

He added that the fact that the Boks had “been together for six years or so, and we’ll only have seven weeks,” made them an even more daunting prospect.


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