Lions must not be afraid to go for the jugular, says Jamie Roberts

The Lions have been urged by one of their senior players to raise their collective intensity in training if they want to beat Australia in next week's first Test.

The Wales centre Jamie Roberts was part of the squad which fell agonisingly short in South Africa in 2009 and believes the next few days could shape the outcome of the whole series.

Roberts, and his head coach Warren Gatland, had hoped the Lions would display a more ruthless streak in the second half against the outclassed Combined Country XV in Newcastle and is calling for a change of gear against the Waratahs this weekend as well as on the practice field.

"It's up to us as a side to raise the intensity in our game. We played some good rugby but midway through the second half we didn't quite go for the jugular and that's something we'll look at.

"If Gats doesn't feel we're reaching that Test match intensity in games, he'll certainly replicate it in training leading up to the first Test. The sports science team out here are second to none and it's about getting things right off the pitch as well."

In Roberts's view it will be tiny margins which settle this series and the Lions are desperate not to suffer a similar fate to four years ago, when they lost the first two Tests by five and three points respectively.

"From 2009 we have to remember we came very close to winning but for a couple of mistakes in that first Test and the second Test as well," said the centre, keenly aware easy provincial victories do not automatically translate into series success. "I don't think there's any danger of this squad being undercooked for the Tests."

The 26-year-old Roberts, who will be playing his club rugby in France for Racing Métro next season, is still waiting, like everyone else, to see if he will make the starting team for the first Test. He arrived on tour as the favourite to occupy the no 12 jersey but did not have his best game in Newcastle against the Combined Country's gallant midfield defence.

It would still be a shock if Gatland opted not to start Roberts alongside Brian O'Driscoll in the first Test but nothing is set in stone.

"We just have to wait and see what Warren decides to go with," admitted Roberts. "We haven't got a clue. The coaches have made that clear to the players, that they'll give everyone a shot. This Saturday's selection will probably sway things a little, that's what people are expecting, anyway. But as a side we'll wait and see.

"Obviously, as an individual, you'd love to be playing every game for the Lions, and certainly the Test matches. But, ultimately, we want to achieve the goal of winning the Test series, regardless of what team is picked. We're all here as a collective squad. Those players who make the Test team have a job to do but those players who don't have an even bigger job to do, in my eyes. It all depends on the coaches … we don't pick the team."

Roberts will be particularly interested to see who gets the nod in the back row – "It's a bit scary … there's probably three or four combinations you could pick there and they'd cause the Australians bother" – but also believes the Lions need to be wary of coughing up too many turnovers, with the evening dew making the ball more slippery than it would be in daylight.

"It was very greasy on Tuesday and we lost the ball in contact a few times. But the conditions are no excuse. We've just got to work a bit harder at not letting go of the ball because over the next three or four weeks it could be greasy."

Powered by article was written by Robert Kitson in Sydney, for The Guardian on Wednesday 12th June 2013 22.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © National Assembly For Wales