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'Trust us... we won't push you too far': Reassuring Lions message as injury scare dismissed

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Lions assistant Robin McBryde has spoken about the need for Warren Gatland’s squad to quickly trust the level of preparatory work they are doing on the island of Jersey, the forwards coach going on to dismiss concerns regarding the fitness of Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit.


It was spotted that the 20-year-old wasn’t kitted up fully for training on Tuesday and was instead wearing a compression legging, but any concern about his well-being has now been allayed. “He has trained fully today [Thursday],” confirmed McBryde at a lunchtime Lions media briefing. “It’s double day today so he will probably go as well this afternoon.”

If the idea of double training might sound alarm bells at the end of an already long season, the former Wales international assured that the players are getting the best care possible and that the balance being struck between work and rest is best practice given the experience of previous Lions tours that Gatland and his backroom staff have.

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That work/rest balance might not yet have found its level regarding McBryde himself as he mentioned he only managed a brief dip in the sea on Wednesday, a non-training day for the squad. But he outlined the message that Gatland has been putting across to the Lions, insisting that player welfare at this time of year is foremost in their thoughts.

I didn’t stray from the hotel, I’d too much work on my plate. I managed to slip out and jump in the sea for five minutes and that was it,” said McBryde, reflecting on Wednesday’s down day and the importance of the Lions striking a balance between work and rest.

“It’s vital. You have got to get the balance right and with the amount of work they got through on Monday and Tuesday, they needed a break. With all the monitoring that is going on, having worked with this group before with Bobby (Stridgeon, head of fitness), with Prav (Mathema, head of medical) and obviously with Warren (at Wales), there is no one better really in being mindful of looking after the players.


“Warren has said time and time again, ‘Listen, trust us as a very good coaching team, a good strength and conditioning team, we won’t push you too far‘. It’s getting that balance and those teams, having worked with them in the past, I have never experienced any team that can build that bond, that trust between the players better really so getting that balance of hard work but knowing that those sessions aren’t going to go too long and everything is being monitored, we’re not going to push you too far, having that trust amongst the players is vital really.

“Yesterday, I know they went off and did various things, whether it was golf or whether it was the beach, whether it was exploring some tunnels or whatever, that is vital really to keep everyone fresh mentally as well, get out of the hotel. As coaches I wasn’t as fortunate as that, there is too much work to do. We will have another couple of days off while we are here but it was good for the players to get out.

“It’s vital to build that cohesion up, to build that understanding. You are going to be chasing your tail if you don’t get that work done now, bed a few things into the players. It will be another challenge when the players that aren’t here join us. Hopefully, the players that are here now will be able to bring those other players up to speed as and when they join the camp.”

Asked about the reception the Lions have had so far in Jersey, McBryde added: “It has been great. The staff in the hotel can’t do enough here. We had Monday and Tuesday and they were both hot days so we managed to enjoy the weather and get through some hard graft. Yesterday stayed dry. Today is really the first time we have experienced some Scottish or Welsh or Irish weather. But it was good.


“Again, it was a matter of rolling up your sleeves and getting through it and the players responded great. I’m looking forward to the next week or so we are here. Maybe I will manage to get out of the hotel myself at some stage.

“We are here to work hard above anything else because when you think of the schedule from after the Japan game, we travel to South Africa, we’re straight into a working week, we have a game on the Saturday and then it’s Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, pretty relentless so the work that we do here and the principles that we put in place they have got to be pretty much nailed on by the time we are leaving here because there is no time to waste really when you consider that schedule.”


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