Axel's spirit can help Peter drive Lions to Test success

Henrietta Brewer
June 23, 2017

And O'Driscoll was afforded the honour on this occasion as the Lions prepare for Saturday's series opener against New Zealand at Eden Park, with recipients including Ireland flanker Peter O'Mahony, who skippers the Lions this weekend. They have also won 46 successive games in New Zealand dating back to a 2009 defeat to South Africa. That win will equip scrum-half Murray with the knowledge of how the Irish came out on top in that epic 40-29 win at Soldier Field in Chicago last November.

Murray stopped himself a couple of times from predicting a victory in what will be the biggest game of his career and, asked whether the Lions would have a few surprises for the All Blacks on Saturday, his voice dropped to a whisper.

"To be honest, it's probably the most important right now for me, massive - the series has been billed as being pretty big and I think we've finally gotten to that point where both teams are raring to go", the 31-year-old said. "It was only last night we went out to the Viaduct [a waterfront entertainment complex] as a squad and management and we had a lot of Kiwis coming up to us".

"And he played a lot of players that normally wouldn't ordinarily play 80 minutes".

South Africa's Jaco Peyper will control the first test between the All Blacks and Lions
MARK TAYLOR FAIRFAX NZ South Africa's Jaco Peyper will control the first test between the All Blacks and Lions

"Decision-making, execution of game plan, all those things come into it too but for me the main thing to do is keep playing".

"He doesn't seem more stressed, he's taken it in his stride".

"But to show that it can be done is certainly something we can be proud of".

"Not necessarily the way he speaks, he does speak very well but it's about how he plays and that aggressive, confrontational game that he plays".

"We've taken on an incredibly tough schedule, like nothing the Lions have ever faced", Gatland said.

"I've seen a change in Owen (Farrell) in the four years since the 2013 tour: there's a stability, a confidence about him, and that drips down to the players". He hasn't tried to be a different person since he's been named captain.

Williams will go up against Ben Smith, with the All Blacks fully loaded for a game which has captured the imagination of the rugby world.

"His messages are thought out and they're clear". He doesn't talk all the time.

They also want the total number of games the Lions play to be slashed to six as home Unions try to negotiate terms over future tours.

"I'm delighted for him".

"I have got some family here". I think we're in a good place, if we weren't creating line breaks I'd be a anxious man sitting here.

"There is always pressure on us", Read told reporters at Eden Park on Friday on the eve of the first test.

"From young age group sides where Pete captained me, he's been the same".

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