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'We don't want to stifle ourselves too much relying on the kicking game'

Alun Wyn Jones is looking forward to seeing Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw playing together.

Maro Itoje kicks the ball at Lions training.
Maro Itoje kicks the ball at Lions training.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

LIONS CAPTAIN ALUN Wyn Jones has expressed his hope that Warren Gatland’s side can find a good balance between their kicking game and attacking with ball in hand in Saturday’s deciding Test against the Springboks.

The South Africans kicked more than the Lions last weekend in their second Test victory but they also had the more impressive moments in attack as Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am finished excellent tries.

There has been widespread disappointment with the style of last weekend’s game, with plenty of complaints that it was tough to watch and a poor advert for rugby.

While neither the Lions nor Boks will care how entertaining this weekend’s game is if they win, Jones does hope the tourists – who only scored one try in the first two Tests – are ready to move the ball if and when opportunities arise.

“You see finals that can be attritional things, but they do open up as well,” said Jones.

“I’d like to think we’re prepared for both. We don’t want to stifle ourselves with too much relying on the kicking game.

“It’s a balance, something we probably didn’t have last week, particularly in that second half. We were in it until 60 and then discipline probably cost us. We probably want to have the ability to do both and be ready for both.”

The Lions are keen for the third Test to be a quicker game after the second dragged on for more than two hours and 10 minutes due to TMO checks and injury stoppages. 

dan-biggar-with-duhan-van-der-merwe-and-stuart-hogg Dan Biggar claims a high ball. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

That suited the Boks very well, meaning the Lions will be keen to lift the tempo as well as nailing their all-important set-piece duties on Saturday.

“Obviously we need to improve our set-piece and to get discipline right because the penalty count went against us,” said Jones.

“We need to try and maintain tempo in the game. If we do that, we can stay away from anything that might slow us down or get to the next set, as it were.

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“We try to keep it relatively simple. It’s very easy to go into too much detail or take too much time. It’s simplicity, discipline, accuracy, and displaying the energy that we have showed throughout the tour.”

Gatland has made six changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s game, with Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Ali Price, Wyn Jones, and Ken Owens given starts.

The final change sees the ‘energiser’ Bundee Aki come into midfield alongside Ireland team-mate Robbie Henshaw and it’s a partnership that Jones is looking forward to seeing in action.

“Very much so,” said Jones. “Bundee has shown those traits and that character throughout the tour, on and off the park, which has been great to see.

“You can see it, he has been chomping at the bit and now he gets his chance. I think him and Robbie, that partnership is definitely going to be exciting.”

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Murray Kinsella

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