Thursday 14 December 2017

O'Driscoll believes Horwill got 'rub of the green' in citing controversy

Mick Cleary and Gavin Mairs

BRIAN O'Driscoll reckons Australia captain James Horwill is "a lucky boy" after he escaped sanction for an incident involving Alun-Wyn Jones in the first Test.

The 28-year-old combative second-row was cleared to play in Saturday's second Test by the panel following a hearing which lasted almost four hours over the incident which left Jones needing stitches.

"He's a lucky boy. He knows it himself," O'Driscoll said of Horwill.

"Whether it was intentional or not, there's only one person who knows that. You get these rulings on occasions and you get the rub of the green, but it doesn't change our attitude," he said. "We want to go out and play the best Aussie team that we can do and he's definitely part of that."

The Lions, however, will be without England prop Alex Corbisiero, while there is virtually no chance that Wales centre Jamie Roberts will play.

The tourists head coach Warren Gatland, who names his side tomorrow, must now decide whether to stick with Jonathan Davies, who played at inside centre in the first Test in Brisbane, or turn to Manu Tuilagi, who lasted the entire 80 minutes of the 35-0 win over the Rebels yesterday. The England centre insisted afterwards that he would be ready if called up.

"There's no question about that," said Tuilagi. "I feel as though I'm back to where I was before the injury, so there's no doubt I'm ready to go if selected. I feel I could play again, I just wanted the game to go on. I hope I have given the coaches something to think about. My shoulder felt really good."

With Ireland wing Tommy Bowe also available after his recovery from an early-tour broken hand, the Lions are still in decent shape, the loss of lock Paul O'Connell notwithstanding. Gatland also issued a warning to the Wallabies that they would not be able to run the more heavyweight Lions off their feet.

"We know we're in good shape physically, we know we're fit," said Gatland, who has made conditioning a key element of his strategy. "I think Australia, with the way they played last Saturday, tried to ask questions in terms of our conditioning, to see if we were in good shape and that question was well and truly answered."

Australia, meanwhile, have accused the Lions prop Adam Jones of trying to "coax" their front-row to engage illegally at the scrum during their first Test defeat in Brisbane.

The Australians have been reviewing footage this week of how Jones and Wales scrummaged during the Six Nations. They believe he earned the Lions an advantage by "playing a few little games."

The Lions were able to dominate the scrum during their 23-21 victory at the Suncorp Stadium before Jones was replaced, along with Corbisiero, going into the final quarter when the home side gained a foothold.

Wallabies tight-head prop Ben Alexander is concerned that this Saturday's referee, South African Craig Joubert, will adopt a strict approach to early engagements at scrum time and says his forwards are preparing themselves to counteract any perceived ploys by Jones. "The reason that Adam Jones is rated one of the best tight-heads in the world is that he is very smart," said Alexander. "There were a few little games being played around the engagement and I am sure he has a few more up his sleeve. It is up to us to study all the footage and we have been looking at how Wales went in the Six Nations.

"We had Joubert for Brumbies against the Crusaders and he did us for going early a couple of times. It is something he looks for and the Lions tried to coax us into going early on Saturday." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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