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Lions players will learn Tuesday what Gatland's 1st Test team is

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Warren Gatland won’t publicly announce his Lions team until Thursday morning for next Saturday’s first Test clash with the Springboks in Cape Town, but Anthony Watson let slip on Tuesday that the players were expecting to know what the XV is before they trained this afternoon at Hermanus High School.

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The Lions were set to have a double training session on Tuesday ahead of their Wednesday rest day prior to Gatland’s big media reveal which is scheduled for 10am (BST) on Thursday. However, his squad will know long before then exactly who will be facing the Springboks in their keenly awaited Test series opener.

“We are due to find out in a meeting this afternoon before we go out for the afternoon session,” said Watson at a Lions media briefing shortly after noon (BST) on Tuesday. “We should find out pretty imminently. This morning’s session was good. The backs, we went through our plays and did some of our edge attack, edge defence, kicking game, that type of stuff but everyone was revved up.

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Tadhg Furlong talks about the Lions’ scrum and what to expect from the Springboks next weekend

“There was a different kind of aura around the place when it is Test week when everyone is trying to put their best foot forward at every moment in training. It was very good. It was competitive and I am sure this afternoon will be the same if not more ramped up.”

The Lions media session on Tuesday overlapped with the Springboks naming their team for Saturday’s series opener and their XV will contain eleven of the same starters who defeated England in the November 2019 World Cup final. The South Africans weren’t due to reveal their side until Wednesday but they opted to bring the announcement forward by 24 hours.

“It’s up to them. Teams do it differently,” shrugged Lions assistant Neil Jenkins. “Some do it Thursday, some do it earlier. It’s their decision and it’s up to them. Whatever team they pick is going to be very strong. We’re going to be ready and I am sure they are going to be ready as well for Saturday. It just gives them boys [South Africa] a little bit of extra prep if they need it.

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“It was good,” he added about the Lions’ Tuesday morning training. “Everyone was excited. This is what we are here for, the Test series is just around the corner, so everyone was good. Every member of the party is looking forward to it and training has been good for the last couple of days and there is another session this afternoon.

“Strengths and weaknesses, we look at every aspect and every area (of the Springboks) where we can find a fraction of an upper hand,” he continued. “Test matches of this magnitude, there is a very thin line. There won’t be a great deal in the games. They are going to be very good and you look for any fraction you can get that can get us over the line.”

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Lions players will learn Tuesday what Gatland's 1st Test team is

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