Alun Wyn Jones warns South Africa that the Lions still have ‘a few gears to go up’
Alun Wyn Jones refused to get drawn on Rassie Erasmus’ criticism of the refereeing in the first Test and warned the Springboks there is more to come from the Lions.
Jones was responding after Rassie Erasmus, the South Africa director of rugby, released an unorthodox 62-minute video on social media in which he criticised the officials following the Springboks’ 22-17 loss in the first Test in Cape Town last Saturday.
Erasmus claimed Springboks captain Siya Kolisi did not receive the respect from officials afforded to the Lions captain and said he was willing to walk away from the remainder of the series if he was out of line.
Jones, who could lead the Lions to a series victory on Saturday, said he had not seen the video and did not feel that the officials favoured the Lions: “In the heat of the moment, it didn’t really feel like we had any advantage.”
The Lions staged a second-half fightback to edge the world champions 22-17 in a tense first Test and the rivals clash again at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
South Africa were hit by a significant Covid outbreak that disrupted their preparations for the opener and are expected to attack the tourists with greater intensity this weekend.
But Jones, who will be appearing in an 11th successive Lions Test, insists there is also more to come more Warren Gatland’s tourists as they chase their place in the history books.
“A lot has been said about how South Africa are going to improve on the loss. We are expecting the game and the intensity to go up a notch across the board,” the Lions captain said.
“From our point of view, we look at that first half and see how we put ourselves under pressure and where we can improve our game, probably not just from that first half but for the full 80.
“We do feel we’ve got a few gears to go up and that’s been a large part of our focus this week. We probably didn’t execute as well as we’d have liked in that first half.
“Early on we were probably disappointed with the way we started at scrum time. I felt we were under pressure.
“But our set-piece came through and our management improved drastically in the second half.
“We did well to turn the scoreboard around and we just want to make sure that we don’t give ourselves too much of a deficit in that early area of the game.”
A feature of the first Test was the Lions matching the world champions in the pack, taking away a pillar of their game to help claim a famous victory behind closed doors in Cape Town.
South Africa have opted for a six-two split between forwards and backs on the bench to indicate they intend to assert themselves up-front to avoid a first series defeat to the tourists since 1997.
“The second Test is going to be more of the same. They have got a six-two split which is more of what they’re used to in the way they select their squad,” Jones said.
“I’m sure there will be an increased emphasis on the set-piece from them and they’ll be trying to get more set-pieces.
“It will help, in simple terms, for more forwards to come on and try to get authority in that area in the game.
“A lot of it on our part is execution and game management early on in the game. We’ve got elements of game management around the set-piece and a couple of ‘comms’ areas that we need to sort out early on in the game.”
Jones confirmed that fly-half Dan Biggar has resumed training with the Lions. The Wales fly-half has been undergoing the return to play protocols for concussion.
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