x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Hines counts the cost of illegal tackle

Nathan Hines looks to have played his last game of the Lions tour after he was handed a one-match suspension yesterday for a dangerous tackle.

Nathan Hines, with ball, could have worn the famous British & Irish Lions red shirt for the last time on their tour of South Africa after he was suspended for one week following a dangerous tackle.
Nathan Hines, with ball, could have worn the famous British & Irish Lions red shirt for the last time on their tour of South Africa after he was suspended for one week following a dangerous tackle.

Nathan Hines, whose chances of making the Test side for the series-deciding game in Pretoria on Saturday were slim at best, looks to have played his last game of the tour after he was handed a one-match suspension yesterday for a dangerous tackle in Tuesday's game against the Emerging Springboks.

The Australia-born Scotland second row forward appeared before the judicial officer Alan Hudson in Cape Town yesterday and was found guilty of dangerously tackling Wilhelm Steenkamp, his opposite number, and dropped him to the ground during the Lions' 13-13 draw. Of the locks, Simon Shaw is the player most likely to put pressure on Alun-Wyn Jones and Paul O'Connell - the second-row pairing in Saturday's first Test - and the England and Wasps giant will be eagerly awaiting the news of today's announcement of the squad for the second Test.

Tight-head prop Adam Jones and hooker Matthew Rees are favourites to start alongside Gethin Jenkins in an all-Welsh front row, while the Lions could be forced into a change at full-back if Lee Byrne fails to recover from a foot injury. But Warren Gatland, the Lions' forwards coach, has cautioned against radical changes. "There's a lot of decisions to make," he said. "Some guys have put their hands up, but we need to make sure we are not too reactive after the first Test.

"We were obviously disappointed last weekend, so we've got to front up at scrum time and in the driving maul areas. "We passed the ball more than them last weekend and scored three tries to their two, so if we are going to win the Test we've got to work hard at battling the driven ball." The Lions are also hopeful that Andrew Sheridan, the front-row titan, will be cleared for a return to action after a back problem, opening the door for the England prop to feature on the bench at the weekend.

The Lions certainly need to beef up their pack if they are to prevent a repeat of the powerful rolling maul, which scrum coach Graham Rowntree described as "embarrassing", that led to the Springboks' second try on Saturday. South Africa have increased their forward options for the second Test with the return of Schalk Burger to the back row and the inclusion of five forwards on the bench. "They have plenty of back-up on the bench. We are considering having a six-one split on our bench to counter it," said Rowntree.

The Lions scrum coach is confident that, despite the wet conditions at their base in Cape Town, the Lions pack will be ready to tackle South Africa at altitude in Pretoria on Saturday. "We have had an honesty session. We have to trained as much as we can and spirits are high," he said. "The guys are very positive from what we did later in the game but we have got to fix that set piece." * With agencies