Scrum coach Graham Rowntree has sounded a warning to both the Royal XV and the Springboks by claiming Andy Sheridan has regained his edge.
Two years ago Sheridan was the best loose forward on the planet but has struggled to maintain that standard since. Rowntree, who represented England and the British & Irish Lions on two tours, says Sheridan has rediscovered his form and the incumbent Lions front row is looking strong.
‘The front row excites me. I’ve been very impressed by the way the Welsh boys, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones, have turned up and gone about their work,’ said Rowntree. ‘Andrew Sheridan is also back playing very well. By his own admission he didn’t have a good Autumn Series, but by the end of the Six Nations he was back to his best.
‘Adam has made giant strides physically in the last few years. I was surprised at how big and muscular he is. His game has come on as a scrummager, he is defensively very good and his involvement in the wider game has also developed well. You saw that from the way he delivered the scoring pass for a Welsh try against England in the Six Nations.’
While Rowntree is confident, he realises the Royal XV will give the Lions a good contest in terms of physicality this Saturday.
‘If I was one of the players in the Royal XV, I would be throwing myself into those early collisions and tackles. It is a massive game for them.
‘I expect an early onslaught from the Royal team. They will fancy their chances as it’s our first outing and we have not long been thrown together. They will be the underdogs and I’m sure they will want to prove a point or two to us.’