Warren Gatland wants X-factor as Lions bite back at critics


The Lions got off to a stuttering start to their tour on Saturday, limping to a 13-7 victory over the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei with a performance that was roundly criticized by pundits both in New Zealand and back home.

"When you make a mistake or you give them the ball they're just going to punish you", he said.

He then went on to join Ulster in late 2011 and the rest is history, as he decided to make himself eligible for Ireland and has now played play 20 Tests for them. "If you can [tell] me when things started to change, I don't know". I don't know, when did a -certain style change? I think you've got to try and adapt where you need to but try be yourself and play and lead and speak the way you would if you were back with your club or with your country.

"And to match the All Blacks you've got to display a bit of X-factor and that X-factor means an offload, or doing something a little outside the box, and the players are being encouraged to do that". It's going to be tough, but it's up to us to put our systems in place defensively and hopefully negate it.

Coach Warren Gatland is expecting the New Zealand-born Ulster back to help his colleagues through the game.

"It's just another game, it's good to be back but you've just got to approach it as another game and not get too caught up in it - if there's 40,000 there at Eden Park it'll be rocking and there'll be plenty of noise, pretty cool to play in front of".

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As well as combining Payne with his Ireland midfield partner Robbie Henshaw, Gatland has opted for other familiar pairings.

While Gatland agreed it was not the ideal way to begin their 10-match tour, he said it was important to keep getting tough games under their belt to prepare for three tests against world champions New Zealand. He has real skill and we want to see that.

Ken Owens will captain the Lions tomorrow after admitting he was anxious an ankle injury might have cost him his place on the tour.

Munster's CJ Stander is relishing the opportunity to pull on the Lions jersey for the first time after arriving into the squad late. I was 19 at that point, so there was a lot in my mind.

"When you get selected for that first team you can nearly believe that you're there, so I'm really looking forward to going out on Wednesday".