- Dan Lydiate and Tommy Bowe delighted to be involved in chance to kill off Australia
- Jonathan Davies urges Lions to “finish job”
Dan Lydiate and Tommy Bowe – two of five new faces in the British and Irish Lions side for the second Test against Australia in Melbourne tomorrow – are calm and acutely aware of how they can contribute to the tourists’ first series victory since 1997.
Wales workhorse Lydiate has been brought in by Warren Gatland in place of Tom Croft, both in an attempt to quell the threat of superlative Wallaby scrum half Will Genia and to protect the Lions’ ruck ball.
And after captaining the midweek side to a comprehensive 35-0 win over the Rebels on Tuesday, the blindside flanker seemed fiercely focussed on taking an unassailable 2-0 lead.
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“It’s been a week to remember,” he said. “I was obviously over the moon when I heard my name called out [in the Test team], but it’s a massive challenge this weekend. There’s a really good feeling in the camp and we’re ready.
“I’m going to try and play my usual game and get stuck into them. Nothing changes for me, I’ll just work as hard as I can and do what I do best.
“If Australia win this weekend, they obviously bring the series down to the last game. Beating the Rebels in midweek helped us with momentum and we’re looking forward to Saturday.”
Bowe’s ascent to the Test XV has been far less conventional – the 2009 veteran is included on the right wing after a recovering miraculously from a broken hand he sustained just 20 days ago in a 22-12 defeat of the Queensland Reds.
But, though the 29 year-old Ulsterman had showcased some scintillating form prior to his injury, he admitted taking the position of Alex Cuthbert would put him under increased scrutiny.
“To go from one of my biggest lows – being told I needed an X-ray on the side of the pitch, seeing the fracture on my hand and thinking my tour was over – to being here now is an amazing feeling. To be picked for what is one of the biggest matches of my career is a pretty surreal.
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“I thought Cuthy played well last week and scored a fabulous individual try, so coming in as a straight swap puts a huge amount of pressure on me – I know that, but that’s where I like to be. I like to have a bit of pressure on me because that can push me on.”
One man who did start the 23-21 victory at Suncorp Stadium last Saturday was inside centre Jonathan Davies, who retains the number 12 shirt despite pressure from Manu Tuilagi.
Set to partner Brian O’Driscoll in another pivotal midfield tussle with Christian Leali’ifano and Adam Ashley-Cooper, the Llanelli Scarlet was adamant the Lions had ironed out the niggling uncertainties that stunted their performance in Brisbane.
“We’ve got clarity this week – we know what we want to achieve and how we want to play. It’s been about making sure we’re on the same hymn sheet.
“We’ve got that extra game [being 1-0 up] but hopefully the job will be done this Saturday. We don’t want to give the Wallabies another chance, so it’s important we finish the job we started.”