British and Irish Lions 2013: Owen Farrell admits his mistake and warns team-mates to control their frustration

Fly-half says retaliation Down Under could prove costly as aggressor Brits is banned

Hong Kong

It is still not completely clear what was going through Schalk Brits' mind when he tried to scramble Owen Farrell with a mistimed punch that turned into a forearm smash, but the rugby authorities were decisive enough in their thinking yesterday.

The South African hooker received a three-week ban for assaulting his young Saracens club-mate during the Lions' 59-8 victory over the Barbarians, and is at risk of missing the start of the Premiership campaign.

Steve Lewis, the judicial officer who heard the case here yesterday, may yet decide that Brits should miss Saracens' pre-season programme rather than any league matches, but the fact remains that he took a dim view of the incident that set British and Irish Lions minds whirring on Saturday. Warren Gatland, the head coach of the tour party, has seen enough hard rugby down the years to understand the reality of what faces his players over the next few weeks in Australia and does not think for a second that this will be the last haymaker thrown by an opponent.

While the coach was stressing the importance of self-restraint in the face of intimidation, Farrell was playing down the controversy as best he could. "Things happen," said the Lions outside-half. "I was trying to pull Schalk into a ruck and he reacted to that. There were no dramas and nothing came of it in the end. I try not to take a backward step when someone reacts in that way, but you can't really afford to retaliate because these are big games we're talking about and losing someone to the sin-bin would be massive. Everyone has to be disciplined."

Farrell is not renowned as a turner of the other cheek and his fire-and-ice style of rugby, in which he balances a molten temper against the coolest of approaches to goalkicking, is not guaranteed to keep him out of trouble as this highly-charged tour unfolds. But a Test series in Wallaby country is no place for a horizontal pacifist, and by refusing to be bullied by Brits and squaring up to him in the way he did, he made it clear that he intends to stand his ground.

He admitted that he found the humid conditions more than a little awkward – not least when, in attempting a long cross-field pass, he saw the ball slip from his hands and travel approximately one per cent of the intended distance. "I've never done that before and it can't have looked the best," he confessed. "But we might as well have been playing in torrential rain, it was that wet out there. Playing in Australian conditions won't seem too bad after this.

"Representing the Lions didn't really hit home until we were running out and I saw so many people in the stands wearing the shirt. It felt special to be wearing that shirt in front of them. You're given a number in your first game: I'm the 780th Lion. You can't take in too much of this kind of thing before a game because there is so much you need to be focusing on, but I took that in. It's such a privilege."

 

Get Adobe Flash player


It remains to be seen what number the captain Sam Warburton will be given: it rather depends on when he completes his recovery from a knee ligament problem and finally makes the Lions debut denied him at the weekend. The back-room staff believe he is getting there – "We're ultra-cautious with these things, but he's progressing well and probably could have played against the Barbarians," said James Robson, the doctor – and that he will feature in one or other of this week's provincial games in Perth and Brisbane.

Three other injured players were close to being declared fit yesterday. Rob Kearney, the Irish full-back, was not considered for the Baa-Baas fixture because of hamstring trouble, but participated in light training before departing Hong Kong. The same went for another Irishman, the flanker Sean O'Brien, and the Welsh prop Gethin Jenkins. They had been struggling with knee and calf issues respectively.

Few of those involved on Saturday will face Western Force in two days' time. "Those were tough conditions: even though these players are outstandingly good at rehydrating themselves during a match, there was an average weight loss of around two kilograms," Robson said. "The forwards always suffer the most because they do more work. The way I try to help them is to give them an extra half-hour's lie-in by getting the backs out of bed first."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Fraud contributes 11p to a £2.00 box of half a dozen eggs
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the Jurassic World trailer
film

Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early

Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
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

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital