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Lions midweek skipper calls for focus

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

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Veteran hooker Rory Best wants his British and Irish Lions midweek teammates to ensure their thoughts aren't focused on the second Test. Nor the plane home for that matter.

The final midweek match of the tour against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Tuesday is a chance for the players to make a statement, veteran Irish hooker Best says.

For those seeking to force selection in Saturday's second-Test team, the match is an ideal platform, Best says.

However, those players run the risk of taking their eyes off what really counts, which is working as a team to knock over the defending Super Rugby champions.

Best says anyone who lets their personal ambitions take precedence will do themselves and the Lions a dis-service.

"It's a risk that we look too much beyond and think too much about Saturday," he said.

"If you take your eyes off the ball against the defending champions, and one of the strongest franchises there is, we won't need to worry about Saturday."

Rory Best is wrapped up by a Chiefs player in Hamilton. © MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images Rory Best is wrapped up by a Chiefs player in Hamilton. Best says the midweek group are in a "pretty good space" despite their Test counterparts' 30-15 loss to the All Blacks in the first Test.

His team's last start was the 34-6 mashing of the Chiefs in Hamilton, reversing earlier losses to the Blues and Highlanders.

It was a performance which many believed had given the Test side momentum into the Eden Park Test.

Best is sure they again have an important psychological role to play.

"We get a chance to pull a bit of momentum back again. It's a bit of a roll reversal from earlier in the tour," he said.

"It's important that we get out there and produce a performance. It's for morale as much as anything."

Warren Gatland has been tight-lipped this week about who from the midweek team might be front-runners for promotion to the Test squad if changes are made.

The consensus from commentators is that Test forward reserves Sam Warburton - the tour captain - and Maro Itoje are strong candidates to start in Wellington on Saturday.

From the midweek team, the contenders include lock Courtney Lawes and fullback Jack Nowell, who starred on the wing against the Chiefs.

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