British and Irish Lions 2013: Midweekers rolling Melbourne Rebels is key to tour, says Graham Rowntree

 

Graham Rowntree agreed on Monday that the injury-hit Lions now had something of a "siege mentality" about them. If they lose on Tuesday against a strong-looking Melbourne Rebels team – a side more cohesive than any of the depleted Super 15 outfits previously encountered – the tourists will find themselves besieged by doubt. Make no mistake: this game matters.

"The attitude shown by the midweekers, the intensity generated by them, can make the tour," Rowntree said. "These guys were the first in the dressing room in Brisbane last Saturday, congratulating the Test players on their victory, and they were the first up on Sunday morning to get out there and train for this match. They're vital to the success of this trip."

A week ago, the Lions lost to the ACT Brumbies in Canberra – their first defeat against provincial opposition in 16 years. It was not wholly calamitous: the tourists fielded a make-do-and-mend back division featuring three players, the wings Shane Williams and Christian Wade and the centre Brad Barritt, who had virtually gone from airport to stadium without passing "Go".

There was, however, some consternation at the way a very decent forward pack was dominated at the breakdown.

Today, the midweek pack contains players with more legitimate designs on a place in the 23-man squad for the Melbourne Test this weekend, not least in the back row, where the Wales No 8 Toby Faletau will be flanked by his countryman Dan Lydiate and the Irish forward Sean O'Brien.

Lydiate captains the side thanks to the withdrawal of the England lock Geoff Parling, who will now face the Wallabies on Saturday after Paul O'Connell was ruled out of the rest of the series with a fractured arm.

"That Brumbies defeat didn't go down well with us," Rowntree remarked. "There were a few playing that night who are involved again and it's a chance for them to put things right. We're having to roll with the punches at the moment, so this game is important to us. We've said right from the start that the midweek attitude is at the heart of what we're trying to do."

If last week's arm wrestle in Canberra was something of a one-dimensional contest, albeit an enthralling one in its own Jurassic way, today's game promises something very different in terms of tempo and pizzazz.

Damien Hill, the Rebels coach, has been able to field something resembling his Super 15 first-choice combination, leaving aside the Wallaby contingent of James O'Connor, Kurtley Beale and Nick Phipps.

"There are not too many chinks in the Lions armour, but we're taking the approach that we want to be true to the Rebels' style of play," said Hill, who has been in charge of Australia's newest Super 15 franchise since the start of last year's southern hemisphere season.

"We'll have to be a lot smarter and more clinical than we have been to stand a chance, but there is always a chance.

"We have a number of aspiring Wallabies and there's no better arena for them to be in to test their skills."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

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

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album