Tuesday 28 January 2020

Andy Farrell embraces underdogs tag as British and Irish Lions chase shock win

Andy Farrell believes "the underdog has always had his day" as the British and Irish Lions chase an odds-defying second Test victory over New Zealand on Saturday.

The Lions are clear outsiders, arriving at Westpac Stadium after suffering a 30-15 first Test defeat in Auckland.

And they have reached a point of no return, knowing that defeat this weekend wound end their Test series hopes one game inside the distance.

"The underdog has always had his day, hasn't he?" Lions assistant coach Farrell said.

"When you get a squad together, it's powerful. I certainly wouldn't back against us.

"Everyone in this room understands the size of the task before we came here, how difficult it was going to be. But I just see how the lads are preparing, and there is a sense of excitement about what a great game this could be."

The Lions delivered when they last faced a must-win Test in Australia four years ago, emphatically securing the series decider, but New Zealand - unbeaten at home since 2009 - are a totally different kettle of fish.

"It has a sense of the third Test four years ago," Farrell added. "There is a realisation about what is at stake.

"We have to make sure we get the balance right and make sure we don't overplay the emotional card, because we have to be smart rugby players as well.

"There is a lot that has been said already. You can tip people over the edge and not let them be the rugby player they are, so you have to be cute about it.

"It all depends on the feel of the mood of the players and what the other coaches, captain and other players in the team are saying - we will see where we are.

"The tone has to be right. Sam (Warburton) and Rob Howley spoke very well this morning. You have to be careful you don't overdo it and cloud what needs to be done."

Unlike in Auckland, the Lions know they will have to at least match the All Blacks up-front this weekend, and that sense of wounded pride has been tangible this week.

"The boys aren't shying away from that," Farrell said. "They hold their hands up when you show them stuff.

"We allowed them (New Zealand) too much time and space to impose their game on us. We need our problem-solvers out there. We need to see a reaction from that.

"But you don't just win the game by being raging mad. You have to be smart about how you go about these things.

"We are playing the best team in the world in their own back-yard, they are 1-0 up and we need to win. It doesn't get any bigger than that, does it?

"We will see what we are made of. I'm excited about it. I wouldn't say I am relaxed, because I'm simmering myself, but there is an air of confidence in the way we've prepared.

"We've been honest about what it is going to have to take to win the game. There is no worry, there's a sense of excitement of seeing how good we can play."

PA Media

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