Fragile Force can test Lions, says Rowntree

FORMER England prop Graham Rowntree has dismissed the notion the British and Irish Lions are in for an easy ride against Western Force in Perth today.

Having comfortably picked off the Barbarians 59-8 in Hong Kong on Saturday, the Lions have arrived in Australia as they continue their tour and preparations for the three-Test series against the Wallabies.

They take on an opposition this morning who are 14th and struggling in the Super 15 league table and have included two players in their backline, wing Corey Brown and centre Chris Tuatara-Morrison, thus far untried in Super Rugby.

However, assistant coach Rowntree still expects a tough test.

“There are not a lot of guys there who have played a lot of Super 15 rugby, but it still looks strong enough,” said the 42-year-old.

“There has been a lot of local chat about how they want to play this game, how physical they want to make it, and we’ve got to meet that challenge, whoever is on the field.

“We are very respectful of the opposition, but we will worry about getting our detail right and getting our calls and structures up and running. We’ve got to get combinations going.”

Lions head coach Warren Gatland has named a totally new XV to the team that beat the BaaBaas so comfortably, which includes Brian O’Driscoll as captain, Johnny Sexton at fly-half and three England internationals: Manu Tuilagi, Dan Cole and Tom Croft.

And Rowntree expects an even better performance.

“I thought we set the bar fairly high on Saturday in difficult conditions,” he said.

“Today’s crew have got to move that bar up again.”