Australian media turn up the heat on Lions
May 1, 2013
The Australian media insist Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has no reason to fear the visit of the Lions later this year © Getty Images
The Australian media believe the Wallabies can expect a bruising series against the British & Irish Lions following the announcement of a tour squad that has been described as a "slab or red meat".
Coach Warren Gatland's 37-man squad for the eagerly-anticipated tour Down Under is dominated by a Wales side that claimed this year's Six Nations title with a bruising victory over title-rivals England - and the Lions are expected to adopt a similar physical approach.
"The British & Irish Lions squad is formidable, but it is well short of being absolutely fabulous," ESPN's own Greg Growden wrote for this website. "They [the Wallabies] know exactly how the Lions will operate during the tour. Precisely like Wales in the final Six Nations match when - to win the title - they obliterated England in Cardiff by being so overwhelming in the physical battle.
"...Gatland has picked a predictable squad, but it could have been better," he added, "and the Lions have probably left their best scrum-half [Danny Care] back at home."
The Sydney Morning Herald declared: "No surprise as Gatland opts for slab of red meat", while The Australian warned fans not to take anything for granted: "British and Irish Lions' candy floss rugby will be hard-coated".
Herald columnist Paul Cully is wary of the inclusion of Ireland's Paul O'Connell and Wales' Dan Lydiate despite their recent injury woes. "Coach Warren Gatland has surveyed the menu in front of him and opted for red meat - large slabs of it," he wrote.
"There are two 'late' inclusions that catch the eye: Irish second-rower Paul O'Connell and Welsh blindside breakaway Dan Lydiate. These are two of the hardest men on the northern scene. You suspect Gatland would have stood on front of the plane on the Heathrow tarmac to buy them enough time for them to board."
The fact that Wales have suffered six defeats in the past 19 months at the hands of the Wallabies was stressed throughout their coverage while the Daily Telegraph's Jamie Pandaram took a swipe at the Lions' reliance on overseas-born players - Kiwi Sean Maitland - and those with a chequered history - former England prop Matt Stevens.
"A Kiwi discard and a South African busted for cocaine walk into a Lions camp. No joke," he wrote, before later adding: "The toughness of the task was never in question, but now the Lions squad is there for all to see, one thing is clear. This is no joke."
Writing for TheRoar.com.au, Spiro Zavos believes Gatland has taken a significant risk. "I am calling the side, right now, the Welsh Lions and making the fearless prediction that loading the side with Welsh players for an 11-match tour is an indulgent gamble that could backfire on the side.
"To begin with, Warburton is an over-rated player and captain, in my view. He took what was described as the best side ever to leave Wales to Australia last season and came away with a 3-0 series loss. And this series loss was against a Wallabies side that had no James Horwill and over 20 possible Wallabies out with injuries over the period."
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