Lions want to get on winning roll

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    07 Jun 2017     Getty Images

Up against the first of the Investec Super Rugby franchises, the Lions were looking to get on a winning roll ahead of the Test series.

Experienced England prop Dan Cole, who toured with the Lions to Australia in 2013, said: "This is the first franchise we are going to play and it's the first time most of us are going to play so it is essential that we perform.

"You have to try and push the tour on and build momentum going into the games that come thick and fast.

"It's almost play, train, play and you want that momentum to roll. You want to win every game on tour so it's important we win this week," he said.

The touring experience and changed approach from the usual with their respective national sides meant ability to adjust to different players became more important.

Cole will find himself propping with Welshman Ken Owens and Irishman Jack McGrath. They had trained together for a week only.

"Obviously it won't be as seamless as if you had played 50 games together but we have to accelerate that process and being in this environment everything is accelerated anyway.

"You are here for six weeks, living with each other so in that regard you can't escape each other and you know you have to gel quickly," he said.

Players who were not involved in Saturday's opener against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians were anxious to get out and play.

Assistant coach Rob Howley said: "We will see improvements, I have got no doubts about that.

"We are still working on our foundations, putting in principles of the way we want to play and having a framework whereby the players have the ability to play what is in front of them.

"We want to be clinical, relentless in our process and ruthless because in a couple of weeks we are playing against the most ruthless side in world rugby," he said.

The Blues would be a step up from the Barbarians side.

"There are players that want to be in the All Blacks side and Sonny Bill Williams is one of them.

"They are a very physical side, they are quite direct with great ball carrying, great footwork and that is something we are aware of defensively and we have to take our opportunities when they come," he said.

In preparation for the Blues, and for New Zealand's overall approach, the Lions had introduced a concept of 'rugby chaos' to their preparation. It was aimed at coping with an unstructured approach and being able to adapt to what they see in front of them on the field, Howley said.