sport news Let's lay down the Lawes! England forward Courtney keen to put down a marker ...

sport news Let's lay down the Lawes! England forward Courtney keen to put down a marker ...
sport news Let's lay down the Lawes! England forward Courtney keen to put down a marker ...

Courtney Lawes and the rest of the Lions pack are primed to deliver a statement of intent on Saturday about their ability to cope with the ferocious physicality of a Test series in South Africa.

What awaits Warren Gatland's side is an opening tour game at Ellis Park, Johannesburg against a young team representing Gauteng also known as Lions — but the similarities end there.

The visitors are expected to win handsomely but what matters is that they further develop team cohesion and combinations, and send out a warning to the world champion Springboks about their refusal to be pushed around or dominated.

British and Irish Lions' Courtney Lawes (right) is keen to make a good impression on Saturday

British and Irish Lions' Courtney Lawes (right) is keen to make a good impression on Saturday

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The England star is set to line up at blindside flanker against Gauteng-based club side the Lions

The England star is set to line up at blindside flanker against Gauteng-based club side the Lions

How the teams line up on Saturday afternoon

How the teams line up on Saturday afternoon

There is likely to be a gulf in class but that won't stop the players representing Gauteng from trying to undermine the Lions' preparations for the serious business of the tour. If they are able to expose any weaknesses or cracks it might enhance local belief that the vaunted travellers are there for the taking.

The Boks won the 2019 World Cup with a demonstration of set-piece supremacy in the final against England and they will be watching for signs of encouragement about doing a similar number on the Lions.

It is essential the red-shirted pack jolt South African optimism by overwhelming the Gauteng rookies in all contact areas. If Gatland's forwards achieve dominance, it will serve as a powerful marker.

Lawes, the veteran England lock being deployed at blindside flanker, is clear about their objective, saying: 'It's our first game out here so it's going to be important to take a good step forward and show what we are going to be about on this tour and — come the Tests — what sort of pack we're going to be.

'Regardless of who you play, as a Lions team your opposition are always going to be gunning for you and they're always going to be so up for it and ready to get into you. We will be prepared for that but still looking to impose our own physicality on the game as well.'

In days gone by, a provincial team such as Gauteng's Lions would have seen unsettling the tourists as their national duty — whether by fair means or

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