Lions tour: Warren Gatland praises All Blacks forwards, urges Lions pack to get more 'physical'

  • 25/06/2017

Standing up to the physical All Blacks juggernaut will be the only way for the British and Irish Lions to bounce back in the Test series, says coach Warren Gatland.

Gatland tipped his hat to the direct, hard running of the New Zealanders in Saturday's 30-15 first Test win at Eden Park, saying it was the difference between the teams.

There was no sign, he noted, of the frothy back play from the hosts which many had predicted.

The Lions were the more imaginative side in attack but were let down by a lack of finishing, which Gatland hoped would improve in the second Test in a week in Wellington.

The priority is stopping the All Blacks making headway over the advantage line via offloads and short passes from halfback Aaron Smith.

"The All Blacks haven't played champagne rugby and thrown the ball all over the place," he said.

"Hats off to them. They came very hard off nine, which got them some good front-foot ball and they were very aggressive at the breakdown.

"We're just going to have to make sure that, if they do employ those tactics next week, that we're much better at stopping that momentum."

Gatland said all three of New Zealand's tries could have been stopped, and believed the Lions warranted more than their two.

Winger Elliot Daly failed to ground the ball after crossing in the second minute while fellow England back Ben Te'o botched another gilt-edged chance soon after the break when failing to pass to support players outside him.

"You finish those chances and it changes the whole momentum of the game," Gatland said.

"But I thought we played some lovely rugby and scored a couple of nice tries, which was hugely positive."

Gatland says there is plenty riding on Tuesday's final mid-week match against the Hurricanes, at the same Westpac Stadium venue which will stage the second Test.

The forwards who play the Hurricanes will have plenty to prove, he said.

"It's a huge opportunity. From my point of view, we have to be much more physical next week against the All Blacks because they came with a very physical approach tonight."