Thursday 23 January 2020

'He just cut me in half' - How Luke Fitzgerald ended up getting both barrels from Shaun Edwards on the Lions tour

Shaun Edwards (left) and Luke Fitzgerald (right).
Shaun Edwards (left) and Luke Fitzgerald (right). Newsdesk Newsdesk

Luke Fitzgerald knows more than most just how tough a Lions tour can be - the former Ireland star was thrown into the heat of battle as a 21-year-old to face the Springboks in 2009.

Fitzgerald broke into the team on the wing for the memorable 28-25 defeat in the second test that was hailed as one of the greatest - and most physical - games of the professional era.

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Speaking on today's episode of The Left Wing, Fitzgerald looked backed on some of his Lions memories, and revealed that a defensive breakdown in the build-up to a Springbok try caught the attention of Lions defence coach Shaun Edwards.

Fitzgerald was at fault for the score and the fiery Edwards didn't hold back.

"I got one [a bollocking] after the second test, he fairly cut me down," Fitzgerald laughed.

"I didn't agree with it as much at the time. He just cut me in half for one of the tries they scored. In fairness, I did make an error. We were all supposed to be up. He was a great coach and I learned a huge amount from him."

Fitzgerald also weighed in on the concerns surrounding Johnny Sexton's current form after his struggles in the Lions' opening win against the New Zealand Barbarians.

"I'd say he is a bit rusty. You could see that in some uncharacteristic things that he'll get together pretty quickly," he said.

"The kicking out of hand, he's usually he's the best outhalf in Europe at that. Definitely with the cross-fielders and grubbers, he's usually outstanding at them.

"And ball handling, I don't know anyone with better ball handling anywhere in world rugby than Johnny Sexton.  I think it's a rustiness thing, I know he only had two or three sessions before that Scarlets game which means that he's only played two games in six weeks.

"I know people are expecting huge things from him with the body of work he has and the success he has had with Leinster and Ireland and with the Lions series of Australia last time out. I'd be backing him to pull it together very quickly.

"With one or two more opportunities to do that, I think he will.

"I know from talking to him that he feels like he's in a great place."

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