Gatland On Why He Made No Changes For The Third Test
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
Warren Gatland has named an unchanged matchday 23 for the series decider against the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday, to the surprise of most people.
While he was widely expected to go with something similar, many people predicted he would freshen things up in a couple of areas, particularly in the front five. When asked why he has gone with the same bunch of lads, Gatland felt they deserved to be rewarded after their heroics in Wellington.
“It is not very often on a Lions Tour that you get to pick the same 23 for the following game.
“We felt we should reward the players for the result and the courage that they showed in coming from behind from 18-9 down, digging themselves out of a hole and then finishing strongly in that last 10 to 15 minutes.”
“There are some players who are pretty disappointed not to be selected and I understand that. It is what you would expect from competitive top athletes, they back themselves. But we have stressed all along that this is not all about the 23 players but about everyone in the squad – they have put their disappointment behind them and are helping the match day squad prepare the best they can for the Test match.”
Gatland says they are expecting a massive backlash from the All Blacks, but says it’s the Lions players chance to reap the benefits of their hard work, and make history.
“We are all aware of how big this game is and we are expecting a backlash from the All Blacks. But the pleasing thing about the second Test is just how strong we were in the last 10 or 15 minutes, in terms of energy and enthusiasm so we still feel there is another level in us.
“This is a huge chance for this group of players to show their abilities and reap the benefits of the work everyone has put in. It is their chance to make Lions history.”