Croft and Davies sit out final Lions training session
Andy Farrell insists both players will start first Test
Jonathan Davies and Tom Croft both missed the final Lions training session but will start against Australia in the first Test. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
Assistant coach Andy Farrell insisted that England flanker Croft and Wales centre Davies were rested today as a precautionary measure and that both would start the series opener at the Suncorp Stadium.
“It’s been a funny week because of the game on Tuesday, so we decided to have a double day yesterday – two really intense, physical sessions, Farrell said.
“Tom has a little bit of inflammation on his toe that’s nothing to worry about whatsoever.
“The important thing is that he trained yesterday and got through the two sessions. The right thing to do is to give him a rest so that he’s fine for tomorrow.
“Jonathan Davies didn’t train either because of the intensity of the two sessions. It’s just stiffness. Owen Farrell ran there instead, but it will be fine.”
The Lions have been installed favourites to complete their first triumphant tour for 16 years and avenge their 2-1 series defeat by Australia in 2001.
Their starting XV contains 770 caps – the Wallabies’ line-up contains 519 Test appearances – and Farrell takes comfort from the presence of seasoned campaigners such as Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, Adam Jones and Mike Phillips.
“Experience in big games counts for a lot because they’ve been there and done it. Australia have some world class players and we do too,” he said.
“What you generally get when you come to an occasion like this is the performance levels rise another 10-15 per cent. The more experience you have like that the better.
“When you looked around the team meeting today to see who is going to go into battle with you, it gives you great pleasure.
“After all the hard work we’ve done over the last six weeks, we know that this is what it’s all been for.
“You can tell it’s Test week because there’s a buzz about the place and an excitement among the players.
“There’s an intensity about the way we train and the work ethic on and off the park is off the level. We’ve had a great week.”
O’Driscoll, participating in his fourth Lions tour, will be playing his seventh Test for the elite of British and Irish rugby.
“I’m proud. You work hard towards this, which is the ultimate for a player from Britain and Ireland. You’re following so many great players who have worn the Lions jersey before you,” O’Driscoll said.
“I’m not one to dwell on the enormity of the occasion. It’s more something to reflect on when you’re retired.
“Australia are one of the smartest teams. They invariably have key players in important positions. But we have a great togetherness, we’re enjoying each other’s company and having good fun together. We’re well prepared.”