Lions tour: Lions coach Warren Gatland says tough selection meeting looms ahead of test series

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Former Chief Jared Payne dives over for a Lions try.

The Lions' Iain Henderson is held up over the tryline.

Lions wing Jack Nowell dives over for his second try.

Chase Tiatia of the Chiefs charges forward.

Jared Payne of the Lions is congratulated on his try by Robbie Henshaw.

Chiefs captain Stephen Donald of the Chiefs looks on during the first half.

Lions wing Jack Nowell celebrates scoring a double.

Former Chief Jared Payne runs in the Lions' third try.

Siegfried Fisi'ihoi of the Chiefs skips out of a tackle and makes a break.

Robbie Henshaw of the Lions kicks the ball through.

Lions wing Jack Nowell dives over for his second try.

Former Chief Jared Payne is tackled.

Lions wing Jack Nowell is congratulated by team-mate Greig Laidlaw after scoring their team's opening try.

Greig Laidlaw of the Lions kicks downfield as Chiefs halfback Finlay Christie closes in.

Tim Nanai Williams of the Chiefs looks for a way around Robbie Hensha.

Dan Cole throws a pass for the Lions.

Lions wing Jack Nowell dives over to score the opening try.

The Lions' Joe Marler of the sits in the sin bin after receiving a yellow card for a late tackle.

Johnny Faauli of the Chiefs is tackled by the Lions' Elliot Daly.

Chiefs halfback Finlay Christie is hauled down by CJ Stander.

Chiefs second five-eighth Johnny Faauli runs hard at the Lions' defence.

Lions first five-eighth Dan Biggar tackles Tom Sanders of the Chiefs.

The Lions' Iain Henderson is held up over the tryline.

Lions captain Rory Best shouts instructions.

Chiefs first five-eighth Stephen Donald kicks a penalty goal.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie walks along the sideline.

Lions coach Warren Gatland walks off the pitch ahead of the match.

Lions wing Jack Nowell is tackled by the Chiefs' Lachlan Boshier.

Chiefs captain Stephen Donald kicks the ball through.

Lions first five-eighth Dan Biggar throws a pass.

Liam Williams of the Lions is tackled by Chiefs captain Stephen Donald.

Courtney Lawes of the Lions and Dominic Bird of the Chiefs contest the ball in the lineout.

Chiefs wing Toni Pulu gets medical attention.

CJ Stander of the Lions is tackled.

The Lions huddle together before the match.

Chiefs halfback Finlay Christie is tackled by Iain Henderson of the Lions.

James Haskell of the Lions is tackled by the Chiefs' Chase Tiatia.

Robbie Henshaw of the Lions runs at Chiefs captain Stephen Donald.

Michael Allardice of the Chiefs drives the ball forward.

Liam Messam, centre, and his Chiefs team-mates perform the haka.

The Lions' Elliot Daly skips through the tackle of Finlay Christie.

Lions wing Jack Nowell checks on injured Chiefs wing Toni Pulu.

Robbie Henshaw of the Lions is stopped by the Chiefs defence.

Dan Cole of the Lions charges upfield.

James Haskell of the Lions is wrapped up by the Chiefs defence.

Fireworks before kick-off in Waikato.

The Lions face up to the Chiefs' haka.

Visiting Lions fans made the presence known.

Lions coach Warren Gatland looks on before kick-off.

A Chiefs fan gets ready for a big night.

Nervous Lions fans await the start of the game.

A view of the Lions' dressing room.

Lions fans arrive early for the Waikato clash.

Young Chiefs fans show their colours.

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Lions coach Warren Gatland reckons Wednesday's selection meeting will be a tough one, and that the victory over the Chiefs was significant ahead of the test series against the All Blacks.

The tourists' top XV would have all-but been inked in for the first test at Eden Park on Saturday, but following his midweekers' 34-6 demolition in Hamilton on Tuesday night, Gatland maintains there could be wiggle room.

It was a far happier homecoming for the former Waikato man than last year where he saw his Wales side dealt to by the Chiefs, and this time Gatland and his side were headed for Auckland with their confidence well and truly intact.

Lions coach Warren Gatland walks off FMG Stadium Waikato triumphant, after his side took apart the Chiefs on Tuesday night.
HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

Lions coach Warren Gatland walks off FMG Stadium Waikato triumphant, after his side took apart the Chiefs on Tuesday night.

His side on Tuesday kept a second-string but willing-to-attack Chiefs side tryless, and having only conceded seven in six games is a fine record so far; though it was the four tries scored at FMG Stadium Waikato which would have the men in red walking a bit taller as they drive north.

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Gatland felt his side were a bit lateral in the first half, but better in the second half, and was pleased that they could finally nail their execution which garnered a couple of really decent tries.

"That's something we've been working on, and it takes a bit of time, you get a new team together and build combinations and guys are getting used to each other's voices and things," Gatland said. "We knew we'd been creating chances, we just hadn't been finishing off."

While in reality the scoreline in this fixture wasn't going to matter much, Gatland did feel it was vital to get a result notched that could keep the squad in good spirits.

"I think it's really important in terms of the momentum that was created on Saturday, a really strong performance against the Maori," he said.

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"We didn't want this group not winning tonight, and they went out and gave a commanding performance. And in the changing room afterwards everyone recognised what it meant, not just the players that took the field tonight but also the rest of the squad, they were very vocal."

Now it will be for the coaches to decide if anything they saw from the midweek crew was enough to propel them straight into, probably bench, contention on Saturday.

"There'll be some lively debate and discussion," Gatland said of the coaches' impending get together.

"We're pretty happy with where wee are at the moment and the place that we're in as a group of players. And yes the selection meeting tomorrow will be tough. And that's the way you want it. Guys put up their hand tonight and no doubt there'll be some healthy debate about the test side.

"We're up against the best team in the world in their own backyard in a place they haven't been beaten at since 1994, and it's going to be a new level for us to be tested at."

Winger Jack Nowell, who scored a double against the Chiefs, said it was nice to hear that Gatland had labelled the looming meeting as a tough one, but that it was all about pushing together as a group rather than looking for individual honours.

"I never try and perform well for coaches or anything, for me it's all about the performance out there and playing well in the team you're in," he said. "The big thing for me is I just want to get my hands on the ball and play the rugby that I've played all year.

"We are actually very tight as a back three, we've obviously got a lot of respect for each other but we do understand every single time you get the chance to play on the field with the Lions' shirt on it's the chance to put your hand up for selection. It hasn't come a lot for the wingers, it's been wet, it's been drizzly, but the main thing for us is we are pushing each other.

"Today was a dry pitch out there, a dry ball, and we were lucky enough that it did happen for us today."

 - Stuff

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