Tuesday 21 January 2020

Lions coach Warren Gatland is searching for the X factor reckons Dan Cole

Dan Cole believes Warren Gatland is scouring his British and Irish Lions squad for the "one per cent" difference that could sink the All Blacks.

Attack coach Rob Howley insisted the Lions will chase an improvised "rugby chaos" approach as their 10-game New Zealand tour unfolds.

Head coach Gatland has been frustrated with the dredging up of the dated notion of "Warrenball" by All Blacks boss Steve Hansen, and England prop Cole outlined how the Lions will bid to propel their attack to the vanguard of rugby tactics.

"I think the X factor he's looking for, if you get the basics in place, physicality, looking after the ball, if you get the 99 per cent right it comes on top of that," said Cole.

"He's not just going to ask us to pull something out of the bag. It comes out when you get everything else perfect.

"It's the one per cent on top that brings that X factor out.

"I don't think he's just looking for me to tap and go from my own goalline, put it that way."

Leicester's dry-witted tighthead prop will pack down against an Auckland Blues side boasting eight All Blacks in Wednesday's Eden Park clash.

The Lions are bidding to sharpen up after the lacklustre 13-7 tour-opening victory over the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians.

The rise in calibre against Super Rugby opposition will be steep, and Cole admitted the Lions must now stamp their authority on this tour.

The 30-year-old boasts 74 caps for England and quipped that as a mature Test match front-rower he is not about to lose himself in the Lions' free-thinking attacking intent, whatever the encouragement from boss Gatland.

All Blacks boss Hansen has suggested New Zealand do not expect any surprises from the Lions, leading Gatland to counter by rejecting that "Warrenball" stereotype.

When quizzed on differing rugby styles, Cole was at pains to point out that New Zealand actually utilise many of the physical attacking traits that Hansen has so criticised in Gatland's approach.

"Well I've been practising my drop-goals," joked Cole, of Gatland and Howley's new attacking blueprint.

"But in all seriousness, the quickest line to the tryline is a straight line.

"That brings that physical side of things, rugby is a collision, contact game, so there has to be an element of that.

"We haven't refined our play down yet, but you've got different combinations, and it's about building that gameplan.

"We don't have to be perfect against the Blues, but we do have to be perfect for the Tests.

"There's different ways of playing the game, and there's not one specific style we're sticking to.

"You've got to try to score points, but there's many ways of doing that.

"Physicality is one, yes it gets you in the game.

"So ideally start there, but teams are smart, they know how to counteract just physicality, so you can't just have one way of playing against those guys."

PA Media

The Throw-In: New era for Dublin, all up for grabs in the hurling league and club final heroics

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport