Former Wales captain Gareth Thomas has praised the British and Irish Lions after their outstanding first test win against South Africa and is confident they can continue to dominate the series.
The Lions made a brilliant comeback in the second half beating the Springboks 22-17 and taking the early advantage of the series in Cape Town.
Warren Gatland has made three changes to his side for Saturday’s second test, with Mako Vunipola replacing Rory Sutherland, Chris Harris replacing Elliot Daly and Conor Murray taking the place of Ali Price.
The Lions are one game away from a Test Series win over South Africa
Former Lions captain Gareth Thomas is confident the Lions can take a 3-0 series win
Thomas believes Chris Harris (right) is a more natural fit at 13 than Elliot Daly (left)
Thomas was part of the Lions’ tour of New Zealand in 2005, taking over the captaincy role after Brian O’Driscoll dislocated his shoulder in the first test.
The Welshman has praised Gatland for his changes and, above all, believes Harris will make an impact.
He said: ‘Mako brings some experience and although Elliot Daly is already playing at 13 years old, he is not a seasoned 13 year old himself. So I think bringing Chris Harris to the 13 brings a bit of flesh blood, a bit of excitement but also a bit of stability.
“The 13 is a really crucial position, especially when it comes to defense, so I think the three changes he’s made will bring some excitement.
“What it will also add is the realization that no one is safe on this team. It could be a case of “you might win on the weekend, but I’ll still pick other people”. You have to perform and perform according to Gatland’s expectations.
“It’s one of the most talented Lions teams to have ever been, so you’ll have talent that you’ll miss, but after the Australia, New Zealand and this tour, you haven’t been able to question Gatland because he’s a wrong person.” had made a selection.’
The Lions found it difficult in the first test at times and will have to remove mistakes
The hosts will be determined to keep the series alive when they arrive at the ‘last chance saloon’
Despite the positive start, there was plenty for the Lions to learn from the first Test, with the Gatland side making some mistakes in a difficult first half.
However, the Lions were able to keep the game tight and deliver what Thomas says a . used to be ‘polished’ display against the ‘strongest, most powerful team in the world’.
The Springboks will be determined to keep the series alive on Saturday and so Thomas feels more experience needed to be added to the side.
He said: “I think having players on the pitch who have a little more game management about them, a little more knowledge, maybe less flair and more strong qualities would be something the Lions will no doubt be looking at as South Africa is on the way.” it’s drinking. the last chance saloon and that makes them a very difficult prospect.
“Last chance saloons can be chaotic at times and you need players who want to stay calm in the chaotic conditions.”
An important factor in the second game is the elimination of mistakes and the great battle between Dan Biggar of the Lions and Handre Pollard of South Africa.
Connor Murray and Mako Vunipola have also been called up for the second test on Saturday
Thomas has praised Gatland for his selections on this and past tours
“As always, it’s going to be a battle forward.” said Thomas. “I think it’s about the tens, the kicking and the strategy to play the game in the right places.
“Sometimes in the first game the Lions were under pressure which we luckily got out of. So they have to play a zero tolerance for mistakes as the South Africans will be jumping on mistakes, loose balls and missed tackles.
“They’re a really proud nation, it’s a country that’s messed up in so many political and social ways right now, they’re all using that as inspiration to give to the nation, and they’re a proud nation when it comes to rugby.”
“They will use these difficulties to give them more motivation and put a smile on people’s faces. It will be extremely difficult for the Lions as they will be playing against a highly motivated South African squad.
“But I feel like the Lions have shown they can take the best South Africa can give them, so it’s all about the mistakes.”
Thomas, who was part of the Lions tour in 2005, says they need to keep ‘calm heads’
The former Wales captain expects a tough, physical game for the Lions in the second Test in what will be a bigger game for their opponents.
However, Thomas believes the Lions have shown that they can take the pressure of the Springboks and dominate the series.
He said: “I shouted it at the start and I won’t change my mind, I think the Lions will win the series 3-0. Everything South Africa has dealt with, I mean outside of rugby, has been so difficult but I wasn’t sure how to concentrate.
“And you have to be impressed with everything that happens in the camp to be able to perform like that over the weekend. But yeah, I just have a feeling from the moment the whistle went off on the weekend when the Lions won, they were already focused on the week after.
“They weren’t talking about celebrating focusing on the next game and I think they went in with a job in mind, they have a good group of players and will be fully focused.”
Gareth Thomas is an ambassador for the Business Boost campaign of small business insurer Simply Business, which allows a self-employed person to start, grow or revive a business with a £25,000 grant.
For more information about the campaign, visit www.simplybusiness.co.uk/business-boost/