Gavin Hastings predicts stern test for Lions against Reds



It's been an encouraging start for the Lions down under, even if the coaches will be slightly disappointed at the quality of opposition so far. A lot of players have been able to get Lions experience under their belts and that's important from a coaching perspective, as are fitness levels within the squad.

Nobody was seriously worried about the Lions losing to either Barbarians or Western Force, but the first stern challenge comes on Saturday against Queensland Reds. This is one of the biggest games outside the test series, and will allow us to get a better look at how things are progressing. But the way they've been playing, I would certainly back the Lions to win by ten points or so.

It looks like Sam Warburton will be fit for Saturday's game, which is great news. I'm looking forward to seeing him in a Lions shirt and he must be relishing the chance to captain the side. He really is a quality player, as we saw when Wales played England in the Six Nations. He was outstanding that day, and I'm sure he'll slot into the side like he's never been away.

I think Warren Gatland already knows the team he'd like to pick for the first test against Australia, form and fitness permitting. There is always a chance that somebody comes out of the pack and forces their way into the team, however, so don't rule out a surprise selection or two.

I like Alec Cuthbert for first try scorer at odds of 7.50 - the Welsh winger notched a couple of tries last week and looks in great form. 

Looking ahead, Gatland will aim to give his first-choice side a run-out next Saturday against New South Wales Waratahs (15 June). Then the task will be to build momentum before the first test. Momentum is so important on a short tour like this and it will be helped by the fact that each player feels a responsibility to do the jersey justice. Every player wants to do his job on a Lions Tour and tehre's plenty of cmpetition for places, but the team ethic is the most important thing.

I'm excited for the next two or three games and can't wait for the start of the test series. That really is what all the fans are here in Australia to witness.


Scottish rugby union legend Gavin Hastings captained the British Lions in the 1993 tour to New Zealand and top scored in that series with 38 points. He is be providing us with his thoughts on this year's tour as part of Unibet's UK Summer of Sport.

Back Queensland Reds to win against the Lions with a 15.5-point handicap at 2.10.

Bet on the test series between the Lions and Australia.