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Sexton-Farrell combo likely to excite

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/06/2017 Angelo Risso

The transition to a Johnny Sexton-Owen Farrell playmaking axis for the British and Irish Lions' second Test against the All Blacks is coming along "seamlessly", according to Farrell's father and Lions assistant Andy.

Warren Gatland's Test selection has rolled the dice with the series on the line in Wellington, slotting Farrell in at second-five for the benched Ben Te'o and injecting Irish linchpin Sexton into the starting XV.

It's a move that comes with plenty of defensive risk, given the ball-carrying threat of Kiwi midfielders Sonny Bill Williams and Anton Lienert-Brown.

Nevertheless, Andy Farrell said on Friday that Sexton and Farrell had spent plenty of time together behind closed doors, despite their limited on-field minutes as a No.10-No.12 combination, and were looking impressive.

They'd bring a new attacking dimension to the Lions at the Cake Tin - and help starve Williams and Lienert-Brown of the time and space they needed.

"They train a lot together, they've been joined at the hip for the past five weeks. So they're constantly talking about rugby, they've roomed together, they live and breathe rugby and it'll be seamless," Andy Farrell told reporters.

"Both obviously are big students of the game, won a lot of things along the way as well. More than anything, it's about the energy they bring.

"It's about the combination of the whole team - having another voice, another vision out there so that it's not all on the No.9 and No.10."

Andy Farrell, who oversees the Lions' much-admired defensive line speed, said he was disappointed by the way his side failed to adapt to the All Blacks' halfback-centric tactics in last Saturday's 30-15 first-Test loss.

Instead of playing to first-fives Beauden Barrett or Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith would often play short balls to crashing carriers, tiring the Lions' defence.

They ended up making almost 70 tackles more than the All Blacks.

The Lions would need to be better on Saturday, Andy Farrell insisted, and bring more energy to the table - as well as pouncing on their try-scoring chances.

"They're the masters at not doing the same thing twice, albeit physicality will certainly be a big part of anyone's game," Farrell said.

"We've got to be ready for all outcomes.

"We were our own worst enemy (with) the amount of times we had the All Blacks where we wanted them, and we let them off far too easily - whether it had been a penalty or offside or dropped ball or whatever.

"We let them off the hook - hopefully we've learned that lesson."

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