DURBAN // The British and Irish Lions are hoping to take advantage of South Africa's lack of recent game time, the Lions forward coach Warren Gatland said. "What we are counting on going into that first Test is that maybe they (South Africa) will be a bit underdone and that is traditionally what happens on tours like this," Gatland said. "The touring side has a couple of games under their belt and the home side is a little bit rusty and underdone for the first Test and that's your big opportunity to catch them a bit cold.
"Some of their players haven't played for four or five weeks. Even if you have been in the gym and training pretty hard you still need games under your belt." The Lions meet South Africa in the first of three Tests on June 20 in Durban. Gatland bemoaned the fact that the Lions have not faced quality provincial sides as South Africa have removed their international players from the warm-up matches.
"It's always nice to play against the best players because you want the hardest possible preparation but we haven't had that opportunity," he said. "Likewise, some of them (Springboks) would have benefited from being part of the warm-up games. They will have been hampered by not having faced us." The Lions took their tour record to four wins from four games by demolishing the Sharks by 39-3 in Durban last night and Gatland is pleased with the way his team have been performing.
"We have got to be prepared to go the full 80 minutes against South Africa. If we get into a slow, set-piece game and we let them dominate us with their potential power game we are going to struggle," he said. "We have got to be able to compete, take South Africa through phases and everyone will have to empty the tank. The players are doing that at the moment and we can't ask any more of them." The Lions' next tour match is on Saturday against Western Province in Cape Town.