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Jeremy Guscott column

Jeremy Guscott

Former Bath, England and Lions centre

The Lions need to make the South African rugby public stand up and take note with a statement performance in their second game against the Golden Lions on Wednesday.

After the unconvincing opening win over the Royal XV,they need to put in a display that clearly says they are in South Africa to win.

I would like to see an energetic performance with fewer errors and a lot of aggression, and I like the look of the Lions team.

The back row of David Wallace, Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip looks quick and powerful and all are playing in their best positions.

Lions flanker Tom Croft
Tom Croft is making his first Lions start on Wednesday

This will be a big test, and a great opportunity, for blind-side flanker Croft and number eight Heaslip.

These two guys already have reputations for their athleticism and dynamism in attack but they need to build an equal reputation for their power and aggression in defence.

Scrum-half Mike Phillips has the chance to confirm his status as favourite for the Test team and he needs to have worked hard in training with Heaslip to avoid the clumsiness that we saw with Wallace and Mike Blair against the Royal XV.

Stephen Jones playing at fly-half will need to at least match Ronan O'Gara's performance in the tour opener, but if he plays his usual way he should achieve that - Jones is very consistent.

Brian O'Driscoll and Jamie Roberts on paper looks good as a centre partnership. O'Driscoll is a shoe-in for a Test spot and Roberts has to prove himself again by doing more of what he did on Saturday.

If he gets over the gain line and links with Wallace or O'Driscoll, he will have gone a long way to securing a Test place as long as his defence holds up.

After Lee Byrne's man-of-the-match performance at the weekend, full-back Rob Kearney needs a big one.

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Wing Ugo Monye needs an early touch to get rid of any nerves that might be around with it being his debut.

Lee Mears starts at hooker and he can get ahead of Matthew Rees, who appeared to be overly affected by the altitude last Saturday.

Rees looked lethargic and did not get overly involved. Mears is at his best when running in the loose, taking on players, passing and supporting, but he cannot afford to take too much ball into contact as he will get turned over.

I am really looking forward to seeing how Gethin Jenkins performs and whether he can continue where he left off with Wales and Cardiff Blues. At the moment he must be considered the best loose-head prop in world rugby.



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see also
O'Driscoll to lead new-look Lions
01 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Halfpenny joins Lions squad in SA
02 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions suffer Earls injury setback
31 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Bulls maul Chiefs to win Super 14
30 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott column
30 May 09 |  English
Lions display worries O'Connell
30 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Royal XV 25-37 Lions
30 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Royal XV v Lions as it happened
30 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Earls given nod for Lions opener
28 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions squad selector
07 May 09 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment


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