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Warburton urges Lions not to abandon recent game plan

By Josh Raisey

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Two-time British & Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton has encouraged Warren Gatland’s side to continue their offloading game, despite the physical South African defence they will encounter in the Test series.

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The Lions produced 18 offloads against the DHL Stormers on Saturday, twice as many as the average so far this tour, in a swashbuckling seven-try display. The Welshman stressed that such an approach will be much harder against the Springboks, but that they should still persist nevertheless. He therefore emphasised the importance of being dominant in contact to create the opportunities to offload.

“What’s impressive is when they are offloading from the floor or looking for options inside 10 or when Ali Price was making defenders make decisions,” Warburton said on Sky Sports after Saturday’s victory.

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“I think the willingness to look for the offload post-contact is something I have definitely seen on this tour so far. The Lions did that in spades against the Stormers, but the difficult thing is when you play against South Africa who will be a lot more physical in defence it is harder to offload.

“That’s why, next Saturday, they have got to be dominant in their carry and be able to have the offload. You cannot offload going backwards, you have still got to be going forwards.”

The Lions struggled to break down the South Africa A defence last Wednesday, only scoring one try in the match from close range. Across the 80 minutes, they managed seven offloads, which is an illustration of how much harder it is to maintain a free-flowing approach against a notoriously aggressive defence. But Warburton clearly feels offloading could be the key to success against the Springboks, which requires the team to match the hosts physically.

The Test series begins this Saturday at Cape Town Stadium before the final two Tests in Johannesburg.

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Warburton urges Lions not to abandon recent game plan

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