Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Rowntree issues rallying call

06th July 2013 06:46


Graham Rowntree Training July 5

Desperate: Graham Rowntree

British and Irish Lions coach Graham Rowntree has hailed Saturday's final Test in Sydney as "the biggest game of our lives."

With Australia levelling the Test series in Melbourne last weekend, everything is on the line as the Lions look to secure a first series victory since 1997.

"You can talk about four years ago, eight years ago, 12 years ago. It has been 16 years since we have had something like this," said Rowntree.

"Lads like (prop) Alex Corbisiero know the history of the Lions, know the magnitude of pulling on the jersey and know about the statistics. We are all fed up with the 16 years stat.

"A win (tomorrow) will deliver the series for the here and now. I am not too sure about the Lions' future, it's what we are desperate for now.

"Seeing how we've trained all week, crikey, we are ready for this battle. We saw the reaction from Australia (last weekend) after they beat us. Their captain James Horwill was crying. They threw everything at us and beat us by a point. We didn't get our game going, and we know that.

"There is loads more to come from us and the guys are desperate to win. This is grand final rugby, the last throw of the dice with everything to play for.

"We have to go out and give it everything. This is the biggest game of our lives, as players and coaches."

"We've spoken about our game and how we can improve. By that, I mean in all areas - good quality lineout, a good quality scrum. We need to be playing intelligent rugby, playing in the right areas of the field.

"We lost two (lineout) throws by about an inch last weekend, but that is what you get at Test level. The lineouts were well-contested and close.

"Overall, there is stuff we have still kept up our sleeve, things we haven't shown so far. We want to force them (Australia) to defend and to be playing in their 22, rather than our own 22."

Rowntree also spoke of the threat posed by veteran Wallaby flanker George Smith, who is set to make his first appearance in a Test match since 2010 and was part of the squad that defeated the Lions in 2001.

"He (Smith) has been out for a long time and it will be interesting to see his match fitness," added Rowntree.

"He is still very good technically and he makes good decisions on when to go into the breakdown. It will be a big challenge for Sean (O'Brien). I am hoping his (Smith's) selection is a reflection of what we brought to the breakdown last Saturday.

"We have refreshed ourselves for a couple of days - it was important to switch off after last week - and we've restocked the team and made some changes. We really want this game tomorrow, and the word I would use is 'desperate'."