Thursday 24 August 2017

Two-try Jack Nowell wants the Lions to meet New Zealand head on

Jack Nowell scored twice for the Lions
Jack Nowell scored twice for the Lions

Jack Nowell has challenged the British and Irish Lions to go for the jugular against New Zealand on Saturday.

England wing Nowell plundered two tries in Tuesday's 34-6 win over the Chiefs in Hamilton to catapult himself into late contention for a role in the first All Blacks Test.

The Exeter flyer could struggle to push past George North, Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly for a place on Saturday, but his return to form against the Chiefs means he could well feature later in the Test series.

The Lions ran in some classy tries against the Chiefs as their backline finally clicked - and Nowell has insisted the Lions must bid to repeat that feat against the All Blacks.

Asked if the Lions must transfer the attacking display from the Chiefs into Saturday's Test opener, Nowell replied: "I think we've got to; if you let any New Zealand team, let alone the All Blacks, play rugby, they're going to really play.

"They're going to chuck the ball around a lot, they're going to try to get around you, they're going to try all sorts.

"So a massive thing with what Andy Farrell does with us in our defence is about putting teams under massive pressure.

"And then when we do get chances we've got to take them, they are very rare in these sorts of games, but when you get the opportunities you've got to take them."

Nowell insisted the Lions' stylish play in the comprehensive Chiefs win was only a matter of time, as the tourists continue to build connections.

The Lions' midweek side had lost out to the Blues and the Highlanders, so were delighted to make amends at Hamilton's FMG Stadium.

"I've not done anything different, the team's not done anything different, we just know if we build phases hopefully we can get on the end of them," said Nowell.

"For us it's about keeping the ball and not giving away penalties.

"I'm still doing the same work off the ball, I'm still looking for it always.

"Sometimes in the last few games it just doesn't come your way, but we've worked well on it this week and that's the key element - keep penalties down and build phases.

"We knew it would come. Our phase play in training has been awesome.

"But the main thing you need for that is the ball."

Nowell hailed Lions boss Warren Gatland's faith in handing his flair players free rein to attack where they see fit.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has continually predicted a prosaic style from the Lions, but Nowell's revelations indicate how keen Gatland is for the tourists to find a fluent front-foot stride.

"Warren's a very respected man, he doesn't talk often but when he does everyone listens," said Nowell.

"The most pleasing thing for is that Warren has said to me 'you've got free licence, we don't want you on the wing, go off and do whatever you want, do what you do for Exeter'.

"For a coach to say that for a winger like myself it's very pleasing to hear.

"It hasn't happened for me in the first two games, but it's happened against the Chiefs."

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