British and Irish Lions 2013: Richard Hibbard reflects positive mood as the Lions head to Sydney
Next up on the tour are New South Wales Waratahs
Wednesday 12 June 2013
Wales hooker Richard Hibbard reflected an upbeat mood in the British and Irish Lions camp today as they headed for Sydney and Saturday's appointment with New South Wales Waratahs.
The Lions now have just two games left before tackling Australia in next week's first Test.
Their tour record so far stands at 100 per cent from four fixtures, with yesterday's 64-0 victory over a Combined Country XV at Hunter Stadium making it 214 points and 28 tries scored.
But the trip is about to move up a gear, not only in terms of the opposition - the Waratahs and then the Brumbies are lurking - but also in terms of a fierce Test team selection battle.
"The coaches are very good at managing us. They look after us very well," Wales and Lions hooker Hibbard said.
"It's about getting minutes on the park, getting people working together and used to each other.
"We feel we are on course to win the (Test) series. There is a hell of a lot more to come, so I am very positive. I think we can really push on.
"Four wins, countless tries, we keep building. I'm very confident."
Lions head coach Warren Gatland's team announcement tomorrow for the Waratahs game could possibly offer some key indicators.
With Tommy Bowe currently injured, it is highly feasible that last night's threequarter line - Alex Cuthbert, Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts and George North - could face the Wallabies en bloc.
Close interest will centre around Gatland's pack choice in Sydney, notably the second-row and back-row, with the latter area likely to cause most debate prior to Test selection next week.
Hibbard appears to be ahead of Tom Youngs and Rory Best in the hooking stakes, forging a front-row alongside Mako Vunipola and Adam Jones, with Alun-Wyn Jones slight favourite as Paul O'Connell's second-row partner.
But the breakaway unit - which, at the moment, is seemingly pointing to Tom Croft, skipper Sam Warurton and Jamie Heaslip - potentially has other players in the mix such as Justin Tipuric, Sean O'Brien and Toby Faletau.
Despite a second-half display punctuated by errors - mostly of the handling variety - against the Country XV, they still scored 10 tries, including a double for wing George North.
"There were a lot of positives in the first-half. We let a few tries slip in the second half, which is very disappointing," Hibbard added.
"We could have really put it to them. They showed character and defended for their lives.
"Obviously he (Gatland) is going to be a little disappointed with the second-half performance. So he should be.
"You never like to let a few tries slip, and there were concentration lapses, but we know there is a hell of a lot more to come from us."
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