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EXCLUSIVE: Phil Vickery Lions tour blog




A big hello to all you Debenhams shoppers and if you are reading this – fellow rugby fans too!  I will be writing this blog after each test match to give my thoughts on how each game went and have to say firstly what a nail biter the first one was.  The bookies may have the Lions as firm favourites to win the series but if you watched the game on Saturday morning [the Lions won the First Test 23-21] the win was far from convincing!

I did an interview on Friday for a national newspaper and expressed a little concern about whether we should play the Lions captain Sam Warburton in the first test.

Why?  Well if you don’t watch rugby regularly you are probably quite bemused at some of the referee decisions particularly when play breaks down and all the bodies pile in.  Well you are not alone as players, coaches and commentators are equally bemused at times.

However, the ref on Saturday is well known for blowing his whistle at the breakdown and therefore the other Welsh flanker Justin Tipuric would have been a smarter pick as he is brilliant in open play.  It was no surprise to me that on Saturday we were on the back foot as we could not secure the ball without being pinged by the ref.

The Australians are a pretty resilient bunch and showed it as they somehow absorbed the loss of 4 key players to injury and still should have won the game with the last kick.  You just had to feel for Kurtley Beale, the Wallabies kicker – must be the worst feeling in the world to miss the chance to give your side a crucial win.  The look on his face afterwards said it all.  However despite the loss the Aussies should feel good and will come back stronger next week.  They handled our scrum pretty well particularly when we made changes to the front row in the second half.

England prop Alex Corbiserio was outstanding and you could see why he was picked ahead of the explosive [Mako] Vunipola.  His scrummaging is top class but he still had a massive impact around the park winning most of the collisions.  Lovely turn of speed for a prop when he broke through the line – pretty certain in my time props did not do that sort of thing!

Overall I don’t want to be negative as Lions Test wins are a very precious thing but I feel a little uneasy about next week.  It will be very interesting to see if head man Warren Gatland makes some changes or allows the same side to try and deliver a big improvement.

I will once again be parked in front on the television next Saturday for the second Test [in Melbourne] with a touch of nerves for the boys and know we will improve but also the Australians will too.  Bring it on.

Phil Vickery is a former England rugby union captain for whom he played 73 times including three world cups. Phil was also fortunate enough to go on two British & Irish Lions tours in 2001 (Australia) and 2009 (South Africa).

He’ll be writing for the Debenhams blog after each Lions Test in Australia.

Saturday 22 June: First Test: Lions 23-21 Australia – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Saturday 29 June: Second Test: Lions v Australia – Etihad Stadium, Melbourne. Kick-off: 1100 BST (2000 local)
Saturday 6 July: Third Test: Lions v Australia – ANZ Stadium, Sydney. Kick-off: 1100 BST (2000 local)

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