June International Tours

British & Irish Lion Vickery hails the maul

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The driving maul is back and the British and Irish Lions could not be happier.


Even though they conceded a try to Royal XV hooker Rayno Barnes from a line-out drive last weekend, the Lions players and management are pleased the International Rugby Board (IRB) have stopped players from pulling down the maul.


Lions defence coach Shaun Edwards was horrified when Barnes popped through to grab his try last weekend and has worked hard on his side’s defence in that area, but expect the driving maul to become a key part of the tour.


“I’m glad to see the driving maul back in the game and it is going to become a key part of the tour as we develop,” admitted England tighthead prop Phil Vickery.


“It is a totally different mind set again. Line-outs are no longer just a means to get the ball back and get into your patterns of play.


“Now we have to start thinking about what we are doing at line-out time. The ELV allowing players to pull down the maul changed the game.


“Now it is back. Saturday’s game brought back a few memories.


It’s a great part of the game and one which I was sad to see go.


“You saw the impact it had on Saturday’s game. It is something to look forward to and we are having to go back and re-learn the skills again.


“As far as what impact it will have on the series, it is too early to say. There will be two teams who will be confident of using it to their advantage – it is a strength in their rugby as well as ours.”


Vickery knows almost all there is to know about the Springboks having played against them no fewer than 10 times, including the 2007 World Cup final lost 15-6 by England in Paris.


He admits to being a big fan of South African rugby and wasn’t surprised at the make-up of the 28-man Springbok squad.


“There were no surprises in their squad, but that was expected.


If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” said Vickery.


“I’m sure they will be reasonably confident in their ability to play any style of game. They are a very good team with a very strong pack.


“The level of expectation is going to rise from this game onwards because there was so much going on in South Africa up to last weekend with the Bulls playing in the Super 14 final and then the announcement of the Springbok squad.


“Now the focus will be firmly on the Lions and the Test series and it is up to us to not just talk about what we can do, but to make sure we do it on the field.”


That will start with the game against Super 14 outfit the Golden Lions on Wednesday night at Ellis Park, a game which Vickery knows will be a different challenge to the opening fixture.


“It will be a huge step up for us – a huge step up in the team we are playing and in the environment in which we will be playing,” he said.


“Everything is going to build and build from here. There is no bigger thing than the Lions coming to your shores.


“We are going to embrace the challenge and do our very best and, whatever happens, make sure that when we return home people are proud of what we’ve done.”


Sapa-AFP

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