McGeechan dispels injury worries
June 10, 2009
Jamie Roberts was treated for a shoulder injury © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan dispelled injury worries over centre Jamie Roberts and No.8 Andy Powell following their win over the Sharks, hopefully putting an end to their injury woes after flanker Stephen Ferris and wing Leigh Halfpenny were sent home from the tour with injuries.
Roberts was seen being placed in to a shoulder brace at the end of the game following a collision, while Powell was rumoured to have suffered a broken bone in his hand against the Cheetahs. McGeechan maintained that Powell had sustained no structural damage and that team doctors were happy with Roberts.
"There's no problem. It is just bruising with Jamie's shoulder. He took a heavy bang on it, but (Lions doctor) James Robson is pretty happy," he said. "You don't get carried away with things. The Test matches will be another level completely. We need to keep our feet on the ground. Our discipline and patience, and the fact we finished very strongly, showed the players are enjoying playing with the ball and without it.
"I am very pleased. We showed very strong discipline and patience - it was a very strong performance. We didn't panic. We just kept building a performance and reaped the benefits in the second half."
Lions skipper Paul O'Connell saluted his team's second-half display after they were made to work hard for a 7-3 interval advantage.
"If we didn't trust each other, it would have been very easy to get frustrated. But we stayed very patient, relaxed and stayed on the job," he said. "It was a big step forward for us. There are a lot of successful guys on this trip who are ready to be successful again. The guys have been trying very hard, and it all contributes to a very good atmosphere."
Sharks coach John Plumtree admitted his under-strength team, shorn of several Springboks, had finished second-best.
"The Lions had a little bit too much for us," said the former Swansea coach. "The amount of work we had to do defensively meant we couldn't do enough in attack."
Looking ahead to the Test series, New Zealander Plumtree added: "I think they (Lions) might find they are a little bit underdone, so there is a flip side to the (South African) provinces being under-strength. The Springboks have got to make sure over the next 10 days they prepare really smartly. I think the Lions will be ready more than the Boks will be in terms of their structures."
Plumtree coached Wellington against the 2005 Lions, and said: "I think this Lions team is much better," he said. "It is better organised and better managed. The players still probably don't know who is in the Test team, although I thought there were probably 10 or 11 Test players out there tonight."
When the Lions toured South Africa in 1974, some thought rugby could break down barriers. But John Taylor refused to make the trip altogether
"I think in a couple of seasons London Irish can be a genuine force and contenders for the Premiership." Tom Hamilton talks to Brian Smith
"I hate this talk of survival, we are going there to compete." Tom Hamilton talks to London Welsh's Justin Burnell and Matt Corker
The latest Week in Pictures takes in Madagascar, Nick Cummins and all the latest photographs from Super Rugby