Elliot Daly will start Tuesday’s warm-up match against the Chiefs knowing it is his final chance to win a place in the British and Irish Lions squad for the opening Test against the All Blacks, and he is ready to do all he can to force his way into Warren Gatland’s thinking.
The left wing looks to be a case of three into one, with Daly competing against George North and Liam Williams for the No 11 shirt, with Anthony Watson looking the likely candidate for the right wing.
While North and Williams both started against the Crusaders earlier in the tour – the former also starting the win over the Maori All Blacks on Saturday – Daly has not been given as many chances to impress, with the Wasps back starting only the defeat by the Blues before coming on as a replacement in the games against the Highlanders and the Maori.
With North not in the best form after two relatively quiet performances, Daly knows they Test spot is there for the taking, and he hopes that a shining display on Tuesday at the Waikato Stadium will go a long way to doing that.
“Gats [Gatland] said in the week that there's a game on Tuesday and if you play well then spots are always up for grabs,” said Daly. “That will go through everybody's head and we're looking to play well.
“I've come off the bench a couple of times so far and I've just tried to make an impact. I got a good 80 minutes against the Blues and I thought I did quite well, but this tour is all about improving and playing as the team want you to play. We're always learning on this tour and it's good to be around world-class players and trying to pick their brains on how to get better.
“Frustrated is probably not the word, but when you get on the pitch you want to get the ball in your hands. Whether that's at full-back, wing or centre you want your hands on the ball to try and make things happen in attack.
“You have to make sure you do the right things in defence too to help the team. When I've come on I haven't had a lot of ball, but on Tuesday I'll be looking to work my way around the pitch as much as possible.”
Part of Daly’s job will be to get the back three firing in order to start running in the tries. Just two tries have been scored by the wings on this tour, with the forwards so far taking the bragging rights, and it’s been noticeable how many chances that the Lions have let slip through their grasp.
The understanding between the back line looks to be coming together though, and Daly is fully aware that the tourists cannot afford to drop points when it comes to the Test series.
“We've created line breaks and Rob [Howley, assistant coach] would probably want a couple more tries,” he added.
“It's probably just anticipating the break a bit more really and when we get into the 22 and get tackled, we know what's going on next. In the game at the weekend we did have that and we put a lot of pressure in their 22.
“At the start of the tour we'd get into their 22, force something and turn the ball over. On Saturday we were more clinical and you could see that by the points we were racking up.
“You don't get that many chances against the All Blacks, so you need to take them when they come. You have to be clinical when you get into the 22 and take the points when they're on offer.”Reuse content