|Second Test: New Zealand v British and Irish Lions|
|Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington Date: Saturday, 1 July Kick-off: 08:35 BST|
|Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app|
British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton says Saturday’s second Test is the “biggest challenge” of his career. It may also be one of the most significant games in Lions history.
Having lost last week’s first Test in Auckland, this is – as defence coach Andy Farrell says – “do or die” for the tourists.
A heavy defeat for the Lions could call into question the very future of the concept, with English clubs dissatisfied at the current structure.
Conversely, a win in what will be a wet and windy Wellington would set up a thrilling series decider, and would protect the brand for many years to come.
Warburton said: “It’s definitely the biggest challenge of my career and I feel really confident of doing a good job and delivering a game.
“I don’t understand the politics and the finances of it, but from the playing point of view it has been the absolute pinnacle of my career, and every career highlight I have had has been in a Lions shirt.
“Without sounding too strong, I would be gutted, devastated, if the Lions was ever lost. I think it’s absolutely amazing and the players all think the same.
“In my house, I’ve only got one jersey hanging up on the wall and it’s my Lions jersey. That is how much I think of the Lions.”
Head coach Warren Gatland is not adverse to making bold selections on Lions tours, and he has again gambled for Saturday’s game.
But his side will need to produce one of the great Lions performances to salvage the series, and potentially the future of the concept too.
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‘I can’t wait for the battle’
New Zealand won a bruising first Test 30-15, dominating the collisions and prompting Gatland to challenge his players to increase their physicality on Saturday.
Israel Dagg said he had been unable to walk properly for two days after last week’s match, and All Blacks captain Kieran Read is expecting the second Test to be even tougher.
“I can’t wait for that battle. We’ve got to expect that,” Read said. “If anything it’s going to be more physical.
“We can’t just be waiting for what they are going to bring. We’ve got to go out there and take it for ourselves and try and lead with our game.”
Team news – last roll of the dice?
Having been reluctant to field the combination together all tour, Gatland has waited until match nine to pair Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell at fly-half and inside centre.
The move has been described as Gatland’s “last roll of the dice”, and it represents a substantial shift in policy at the 11th hour.
Gatland has long been associated with clarity in terms of thought and deed, so the decision is out of character. It could come to define his tenure as Lions coach.
Elsewhere, Maro Itoje and Warburton have been drafted in to beef up the pack, while Gatland continues to be influenced by midweek performances, with Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander and Jack Nowell all playing their way on to the bench.
The two changes for the All Blacks are both enforced, with Waisake Naholo coming in for the concussed Ben Smith – Dagg moves from the wing to full-back as a result – and Anton Lienert-Brown replacing the injured Ryan Crotty.
Analysis – can Lions front up?
While a lot of focus will be on the Lions’ midfield, the real issue in the first Test was up front, with the All Blacks comfortably dominating on the gainline and at the breakdown.
Ironically, inside centre Ben Te’o was one of the few Lions to edge his head to head with his opposite number – keeping Sonny Bill Williams quiet – but he finds himself on the bench.
The Lions’ forwards have candidly admitted this week they need a shift in mindset and attitude to win the physical battle.
And unless the entire team improves their approach across the board, this series will be over, something acknowledged by Andy Farrell.
“It’s about character this week. It’s about manning up and putting everything on the line, because it’s do or die,” he said.
“We’ll see what we’re made of this week.”
What they say:
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen: “Losing hurts, it sucks, it’s not a great idea.”
Lions head coach Warren Gatland: “It’s been a great experience for us as a team. Hopefully we can have a good game of rugby and maybe enjoy a beer together afterwards.”
The last time New Zealand were beaten in Wellington was by the England side that would go on to win the 2003 World Cup six months later.
Jonny Wilkinson kicked the points in the 15-13 win but it is for a heroic series of six-man scrummages on their line by England, with Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio in the sin bin, for which the game is most remembered.
74 – Number of minutes Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell have played together on tour, ahead of starting together in the second Test.
15 – Number of clean line breaks made by the Lions in the series opener at Eden Park.
99 – Talismanic All Blacks captain Kieran Read edges closer to a cap milestone
What do the locals say?
“No-one rates us, we don’t care” – The New Zealand Herald hits back at those doubting the All Blacks set-piece
“Game on, Wellington” – The Dominion Post says it’s the capital’s time to shine
New Zealand: I Dagg; W Naholo, A Lienert-Brown, S B Williams, R Ioane; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, C Taylor, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, S Cane, K Read (capt).
Replacements: N Harris, W Crockett, C Faumuina, S Barrett, A Savea, TJ Perenara, A Cruden, N Laumape.
British and Irish Lions: L Williams (Wales); A Watson (England), J Davies (Wales), O Farrell (England), E Daly (England); J Sexton (Ireland), C Murray (Ireland); M Vunipola (England), J George (England), T Furlong (Ireland), M Itoje (England), A W Jones (Wales), S Warburton (Wales, capt), S O’Brien (Ireland), T Faletau (Wales).
Replacements: K Owens (Wales), J McGrath (Ireland), K Sinckler (England), C Lawes (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), R Webb (Wales), B Te’o (England), J Nowell (England).
Referee: Jerome Garces (France).
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France) and Jaco Peyper (South Africa).
Published at Fri, 30 Jun 2017 18:16:07 +0000
Venus Williams faces a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of a man who died in a Florida car crash involving the tennis star, says a lawyer.
The 78-year-old man suffered “massive” fatal injuries from the 9 June collision in Palm Beach Gardens city, an attorney for his widow says.
According to police, Ms Williams was at fault for the traffic accident, which caused the death of Jerome Barson.
The 37-year-old is due to make her 20th appearance at Wimbledon on Monday.
According to the police report, Linda Barson told police she was driving with her husband, Jerome, in the passenger seat of their 2016 Hyundai Accent at the time of the collision.
Mrs Barson told police that as they passed through an intersection on a green light, Ms Williams’ 2010 Toyota Sequoia cut across in front of their car.
Ms Williams told police she became stuck in the middle of the intersection because of other traffic, according to the report.
“Mrs Barson is suffering intense grief and doesn’t know how she will go on,” her lawyer, Michael Steinger, told ABC television’s Good Morning America.
“Her husband of 35 years was struck by Venus Williams, who was at fault in a car accident, which ultimately resulted in Mr Barson being hospitalised 14 days with multiple surgeries which resulted in his death.”
The lawsuit, filed by the couple’s daughter, Audrey Gassner-Dunayer, asserts that her father’s injuries included “severed main arteries, massive internal bleeding, a fractured spine, and massive internal organ damage”.
The Barsons’ car was “crushed, the front windshield shattered, the airbags deployed, there was crush damage to the rear on the driver’s side, and the back window was shattered”, the lawsuit states.
The lawyer added: “At this point, we are attempting to both preserve the evidence and gain access to evidence.”
Mr Barson died in hospital on 22 June, his wife Linda’s 68th birthday.
Mrs Barson was also admitted to hospital after the crash.
Ms Williams was not hurt.
According to a police report obtained by US media, Ms Williams “is at fault for violating the right of way of” the Barsons’ vehicle.
Ms Williams’ car suddenly darted into their path and was unable to clear the junction in time due to traffic jams, witnesses told police.
The police incident report says that the estimated speed of Ms Williams’ vehicle at the time was 5mph (8km/h).
In a statement to US media, the tennis star’s lawyer, Malcolm Cunningham, said: “Ms Williams entered the intersection on a green light.
“Authorities did not issue Ms Williams with any citations or traffic violations.
“This is an unfortunate accident and Venus expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one.”
The accident occurred just days after the seven-time Grand Slam champion was eliminated from the French Open.
She has not been criminally charged.
Ms Williams is currently in London to train for the Wimbledon tournament, which she has won five times – most recently in 2008.
The All England Club tournament begins on Monday.
Published at Fri, 30 Jun 2017 19:00:23 +0000