Gatland: Deciding Test will not define coaching career

Gerry Thornley joined Off the Ball on Wednesday to discuss the third and final test between the between the Lions and New Zealand this Saturday. Nearly 25 years ago - back on the 1993 tour of New Zealand - the Lions named an unchanged side in a tour that they would eventually lose 2-1.

Gatland has not meddled with his winning back row from last week, with captain Sam Warburton playing alongside Sean O'Brien and Toby Faletau.

"I would say there will be a lot of pretty nervous boys come Saturday".

It will take another mighty effort from the Lions to get over the line, but with a focus on ensuring they do not give needless penalties away, they have shown that they have the weapons to hurt the All Blacks again.

"We have got to make sure that physically, we are on it, mentally we are on it, that we know our stuff and we can go into the game with clear heads and really attack it, because sometimes you can get overawed by the whole occasion". "You have got the series tied at 1-1, both teams fancy their chances I think and at this stage you would be foolish to bet against either of them". We've played a good brand of rugby and people have been surprised.

With no midweek game it would have been tough for any player to force his way into the test side.

"You have got to be excited, it is a pressure that you relish". And sometimes they don't come around too often.

It is the new-look backline that the Lions will be keen to target, with inside centre Ngani Laumape and 20-year-old fullback Jordie Barrett getting their first starts, in only their second Tests.

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Brodie Retallick, Kieran Read and Codie Taylor were the pick of a relatively subdued All Blacks pack on a miserable wet night in which the home backs were outshone. They know Laumape is unlikely to pass so they will surely not leave Sexton alone to cope with him, especially after seeing Laumape running consistently at Dan Biggar during the Hurricanes v Lions game.

Make Vunipola has been the go to at loosehead for the Lions on this tour.

But the tourists' nerve-jangling second Test triumph has teed up the chance to register a first series win over the All Blacks since 1971. Davies has been the Lion's best back during the series - and arguably the best player. The former Wasps and Ireland coach, however, did acknowledge his players were aware of the importance of the Eden Park match if they were not getting overly wrought about it quite yet.

The hosts will return to Eden Park - the scene of their opening victory - for this weekend's hugely anticipated showdown.

Sam was brought up on long drives and the dusty fields of north-west New South Wales, where he developed his love of rugby from an early age.

The midfield stocks worsened in the second Test when Williams earned a four-week suspension for his shoulder charge on Lions wing Anthony Watson.

Only a week ago, British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland was a man under pressure, facing a test against the All Blacks that seemed likely not only to decide the three-match series, but to weigh heavily in any assessment of his own career.

The Frenchman refereed the final game of the tour to Australia in 2013 when a 41-16 victory over the Wallabies sealed a 2-1 series win.


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