Keith Wood: "It's strange how the pressure has changed from Warren Gatland on to Hansen"

The former Irish hooker agreed that the players need to let off some steam

BY Simon Maguire 16:05 Friday 7 July 2017, 16:05 7 Jul 2017

Keith Wood of the Lions. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Former Ireland captain Keith Wood believes the Lions players are right to let off some steam this week in the build-up to the much anticipated deciding test against New Zealand.

Wood played on two Lions Tours - in 1997 in South Africa and the 2001 series against World Champions Australia.

He joined Thursday night's Off the Ball and speaking to Ger Gilroy he told of the need for the players to relax in what will be a very stressful build-up. "Well I was thinking of that during the week," he said, adding: "And going on two Lions Tours - the last week of the first tour we'd won the series going 2-0, we were already two up with one match to play and I was injured and it was quite a party so that was the first one.

"In 2001, it was one-all going into the final week but we had pretty much the series dashed away from us with half an hour to go in that game and it was a real, real struggle. I remember that week, we had six guys training that Monday. Guys who weren't in the test team didn't train with us that week.

Keith Wood of The Lions. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"On the Tuesday or Wednesday, we were - I can't say under-cooked - but we were tired. We had changed our line-out calls and were actually under an awful lot of pressure going into the last weekend and I found that very tough. It's different this time.

"The Lions are on the up because of having won the second test. It's strange how the pressure has changed from Warren Gatland on to Hansen. I think they have to relax and be fresh and as fresh as they can be and whatever it is to be fresh is fine. Short, sharp sessions and 12 months of rugby all boil down to a little tilt at immortality. 

"I think it's more important that they get off their feet and more important that they relax a little. 

"We over-trained on that trip (in 2001) and it's funny, I look back at it and I've been critical of Graham Henry and I remember having a chat with Graham soon afterwards and being critical to him of it. And equally, being really critical of ourselves and myself and some of the senior players for letting it happen," he added.

The full discussion can be heard here:

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