British and Irish Lions 2013: Warren Gatland admits concern at lack of tough opponents

The Lions overran Western Force

Lions head coach Warren Gatland admitted that the strength of opponents in the build-up to the first Test against Australia is a cause for concern after crushing Western Force 69-17.

The Lions were also comfortable winners in the tour opener against the Barbarians in Hong Kong and Gatland is considering beefing up training sessions to replicate the intensity that the Lions will face when they tackle the Wallabies in Brisbane on June 22.

Gatland told Sky Sports 1: "You always want to play against stronger sides. That is a concern for us at the moment. You need the intensity.

"If we are not getting it from games like tonight then we'll have to look at doing it ourselves - playing with a bit more intensity in training."

Worries over the strength of opposition apart, Gatland was satisfied with the Lions' first challenge on Australian soil.

"It was a good workout, especially for those just starting the tour," he said.

"The test for us tonight was about being ruthless and playing for the full 80 minutes. It would have been easy to fall off the intensity and cruise home. But Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs and Ben Youngs gave us momentum coming off the bench.

"Overall we're pretty happy. We are getting used to the interpretation of southern hemisphere referees. That's not a criticism of the refs, we are just adjusting.

"We talked about keeping our patience and then, at half-time, we talked about been ruthless and finishing them off.

"There were one or two errors around fringes and we will work on them, tidy that up.

"The challenge for us coaches is who the hell are we going to pick for that first Test? At the moment there is so much competition for places and that's good for us."

Brian O'Driscoll skippered the Lions on the night in what was his first appearance of a fourth successive Lions tour and weighed in with two tries.

He said: "It's always nice to get on the end of good moves.

"We are relatively pleased with the performance but there is plenty to work on, especially defensively.

"We have to continue building on this. We set a good standard in Hong Kong on Saturday. Tonight there were great aspects to the game, but plenty to work on."

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny could savour a 100% record after kicking all nine of his conversions and adding two penalties for a 24-point haul.

"I'm pretty pleased with how I struck it today," he said.

"When I get back on the training pitch tomorrow the work continues. I will go through my routines and Jenks (Neil Jenkins) will give me a couple of pointers.

"For us tonight it was about taking it to the next level and I think we did that."


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