Woodward slams 'surfing' Lions' preparation

GREG STUTCHBURY
Last updated 16:12 01/07/2013
Lions
Reuters
TOUGH LUCK: Brian O'Driscoll (left) consoles Leigh Halfpenny, after his series-winning penalty goal came up just short.

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The British and Irish Lions should have foresaken surfing on Queensland's Sunshine Coast to recover and prepare properly for the series-deciding third test against Australia, former coach Clive Woodward has said.

The Lions, who lost the second test 16-15, have decamped to Noosa, the balmy, sun-bathed resort north of Brisbane for a three-day retreat and training camp before they face the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday.

Pictures of the players frolicking in Noosa's sub-tropical waters on Sunday were posted on their official website and Woodward said he felt it was not the proper way to prepare.

"Players are hardly capable of walking up stairs properly on the morning after a game, so to sit on a coach, then in cramped economy seats, then back on a coach would only worsen the stiffness and swelling,"

Woodward huffed in his column in Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

"These guys are battered and bruised but you do not need to fly to Noosa to get some rest and rehabilitation. It is the last place I would take the team.

"You have to lick your wounds and feel sorry for yourself for 24 hours and then get to Sydney to prepare for the biggest match of your lives."

Lions captain Sam Warburton was left behind in Melbourne to have scans on a hamstring injury and Woodward said the rest of the team should have done the same and made just one flight to Sydney on Monday.

"The Lions needed a lie-in and a full day in the team hotel with the world-class recovery facilities that were on their doorstep in Melbourne," he added.

The Lions had a scheduled day off on Monday, though it did not stop their head of communications welcoming the possibility of further sunshine.

"DAY OFF!!!! Lions sleeping Sun threatening to come out in Noosa," the tweet from Greg Thomas read.

Australia coach Robbie Deans, however, took his side directly to Sydney where the team were to have a recovery session in the markedly chillier waters off Coogee beach on Monday, some 1,100 kilometres (680 miles) to the south.

The Wallabies decision to head straight to Sydney would help them gel their combinations, Woodward added, and boost confidence after what he regarded an unimpressive performance at Melbourne's Docklands Stadium.

"If you take away the emotion it was a very poor match," the 2003 World Cup-winning coach added. "I have never seen an Australian team lose the ball so often in contact.

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"The ambition was there but the execution was not and the reason for that was the defence and breakdown commitment from Sam Warburton and his pack.

"When Warburton limped off and the Wallabies strung more than three phases together they scored the winning try.

"This means that if the Lions are going to win the series then they have to return to their strength and that is power."

The Lions won the first game in Brisbane 23-21 and need to win the final match at Sydney's Olympic Stadium on Saturday to clinch their first series victory since they beat South Africa in 1997.

- Reuters

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