Australia v British & Irish Lions
'Lions will crumble if they lose first Test'
Tom Hamilton in Canberra
June 18, 2013
Jake White has sounded a note of caution to the Lions ahead of the first Test © Getty Images
Brumbies coach Jake White has predicted the British & Irish Lions will "crumble" if they lose the first Test game against the Wallabies on Saturday.
White's Canberra-based side will come up against the tourists tonight with the Lions looking to extend their unbeaten run to six from six. With the Test match five days away, Warren Gatland has opted to rest a host of players who are expected to line-up for the Lions against Australia on Saturday.
The Lions' preparation for Saturday's game has seen them take in six warm-up games while the Australia side will go into the match having last played a Test match in December. And White, who coached the Springboks to the World Cup in 2007, believes whoever wins the game on Saturday, "will win the series".
"I think Warren knows that this Lions side will crumble if they don't win in Brisbane," White told the press on Monday evening. "If they lose, they will crumble. They have staked everything on winning that first Test match. They played in Hong Kong in the heat, in the rain against the Reds, they've tried combinations against the Waratahs and they are resting players against tomorrow.
"And that's fine, Gatland knows that this first Test will make or break the series. They will believe with the game time, combinations and time they've had to gel on-field performances with off-field synergies and dynamics will be enough to carry them through the first Test match.
"Conversely, the Wallabies will think they are right having players fresh and playing in Brisbane which is the best ground they love playing in. They've got [Will] Genia and [James] Horwill who love playing there, they will be banking that if they are to win a Test match, they will be looking to win that one in Brisbane. If Australia win, they will say that's the recipe for winning the first Test match while if the Lions win, then they will say they got it right."
With the Lions' last series win coming in 1997, the pressure is on the tourists to stop the rot with a win over the Wallabies. White emphasised this claiming the "romantic part of the Lions and all the things that go with the Lions are meaningless unless they start winning series".
The Lions are expected to go with a front-row of Mako Vunipola at loose-head, Tom Youngs at hooker and Adam Jones at tight-head for Saturday's game and he believes that could play into Australia's hands.
"Saturday is very difficult to call. There's Australia playing in Brisbane, with Genia running and asking questions of your defence. Then there's the Lions, with their better preparation. But it depends who they pick.
"If they pick certain front row that I think they might pick they might play into the hands of the Wallabies. Because the team they're going to pick for Saturday is not the one they were going to pick when they left home. They were going to pick [Cian] Healy, [Dylan] Hartley and [Adam] Jones for the first Test. It won't be anything close to that. In fact it will probably be players who are the exact opposite."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.