British & Irish Lions: There must be no pause for breath against Barbarians

 

Hong Kong

The Barbarians will have to turn in one hell of a performance in 80-degree evening heat to persuade a veritable army of critics that this peculiarly misplaced opening fixture of the British and Irish Lions 125th anniversary tour was not a lot more trouble than it was worth.

At least the Baa-Baas are off the beer. Had they been hitting the bars in this very expensive town over the last few days, they would be flat broke as well as dehydrated.

Not that the Lions have been monks since coming together in dribs and drabs over the last fortnight or so. Andy Farrell, the England assistant coach charged with constructing the tourists’ barricades ahead of the Test series with the Wallabies that starts in Brisbane three weeks today, made no apologies for sanctioning the odd “togetherness” session – a time-honoured tradition still considered to be of practical use in the team-building process, even in this predominantly puritanical age.

But the fun stops here, at least for a while. The Baa-Baas have a reputation to salvage after their limp performance against England at Twickenham six days ago, while the Lions need to lay down a marker, for themselves as much as anyone, before flying to Perth for the start of the tour proper. As Farrell said: “We’re looking for some intensity in this game, even if there’s a running away on the scoreboard towards the end.”

There is no reason why the Barbarians should not make a fist of it, for the first hour at least. Their Twickenham effort was a lot more convincing once the Wallaby lock Dean Mumm and the France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili were introduced from the bench, and both start today. If they can front up at the set-piece, where they suffered at the hands of Alex Corbisiero last time out, they have natural footballers in sufficient numbers to ask questions of the Lions.

Farrell was certainly wary of the Barbarians in his eve-of-match comments. “They’re not that much of a makeshift team,” he argued. “They could have been on holiday with their families by now. Instead, they chose to play in this game, on this occasion. We’ll certainly be looking to keep our foot on the gas right the way through, because if we’re going to beat the Wallabies in the Test series, it will be all-out effort for 80 minutes each time we meet them.”

According to the coach, the  absence of the captain, Sam Warburton, from this opening fixture – the Welshman is struggling with a knee ligament problem – has not had a destabilising effect. “Sam has been heading things up from the start, but Paul O’Connell [the Irish lock who led the Lions in South Africa four years ago and skippers them again today] has been chipping in as well,” said Farrell.

Match officials, led by England’s old friend Steve Walsh, the New Zealander who now referees under the flag of Australia, will allow  two water breaks in each half today. The Lions have been training in ice vests and had industrial fans blowing cold air at them from the touchlines. The last thing anyone needs to hear from them after the match is a lot of hot air from the coaches as they attempt to explain away a poor display. The Wallabies will be listening.

Hotting up: How Lions could suffer

The British and Irish Lions are likely to face more difficulty from conditions in Hong Kong than from their opponents:

* Humidity levels in the area have risen past 80 per cent this week due to heavy rain, with temperatures expected to reach a high of 35ºC at kickoff.

* IRB directives state that playing and training should be scheduled when humidity is below 60 per cent, while also suggesting playing in temperatures below 30ºC.

* Previous research has proved players can lose three litres of sweat over the course of a match.

* Each player has been weighed before and after every match to make sure they rehydrate effectively.

Teams

Lions S Hogg; A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts, S Maitland; O Farrell, M Phillips; M Vunipola, R Hibbard, A Jones, R Gray, P O’Connell (capt), D Lydiate, J Tipuric, T Faletau.  Replacements T Youngs, C Healy, M Stevens, A W Jones, J Heaslip, C Murray, J Sexton, G North.

Barbarians J Payne; J Rokocoko, E Daly, C Laulala, T Ngwenya; N Evans, D Yachvili; P James, S Brits, M Castrogiovanni, M Wentzel, D Mumm, S Manoa, S Jones, S Parisse (capt). Replacements L Ghiraldini, D Jones, A Lo Cicero, J Hamilton, I Harinordoquy, K Fotuali’i, J Hook, M Tindall or R Varty.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
people
News
20. Larry Page: Net worth: $23 billion; Country: U.S; Source of wealth: Google
business
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A collection of 30 Banksy prints at Bonhams auction house in London
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness