Rowntree wary of Waratahs
June 15, 2013
British & Irish Lions forwards coach Graham Rowntree says Sam Warburton will have to fight for his place in the Test side © PA Photos
British & Irish Lions forwards coach Graham Rowntree admits the Queensland Reds provided the blueprint for beating his side in last Saturday's torrid tour match in Brisbane.
Queensland pushed the Lions to their limit with a run-at-all-costs game plan and flustered the tourists with their rush-defence.
The Lions held on for a hard-fought 22-12 victory but Rowntree concedes the Reds exposed weaknesses the Waratahs will probably look to exploit in Saturday's clash at Allianz Stadium.
"The Reds was a great workout on many fronts and speaking to the lads about it they were pretty worn out," he said. "A lot of guys were cramping up and you don't see that in Test rugby these days. The ball-in-play time was ridiculous, they kept us moving around and they brought a real intensity to the breakdown, so if the Waratahs were watching that there's a blueprint there for how to try and beat us tomorrow."
Rowntree says the inclusion of Wallabies squad member and loose forward Dave Dennis will bolster the Waratahs and says the NSW set-piece will challenge the Lions.
"He'll certainly strengthen the team, we've been watching Dennis, we've been watching a lot of Australian footage obviously ... he's a seasoned pro coming back into the team obviously to bolster that area and certainly their lineout will be a real threat tomorrow," he said.
The assistant coach is adamant the tourists are yet to settle on their Test side and put his players on notice to perform against the 'Tahs.
"I think there's 23 guys who have all got to take their chance," he said. "With this tour right from the outset you've got to take your chance, and there's 23 guys there tomorrow lucky enough to wear the Lions shirt and some of the guys are not. So they've got to take those chances otherwise you can quickly go back to the back of the queue."
He added that even tour captain Sam Warburton is not assured of a spot in the series opener.
"He knew that from the outset and that's how it should be," Rowntree said. "We'll pick a team and then we'll pick a captain on top of that. But he knew that right from the outset and we've got a lot of competition in that back-row so that's how it should be."
Meanwhile, Rowntree says George North (hamstring) is a "bit sore" but would not elaborate on the big winger's availability for the first Test."
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