Robin McBryde wants forwards to take lead as Lions seek to combat Springbok pack
Robin McBryde insists his British and Irish Lions pack need only a light touch on the training field as he begins shaping a unit capable of taking down a pillar of South Africa’s game.
The Lions have completed the third full practise session of their camp in Jersey as they step up preparations for the pre-tour clash with Japan at Murrayfield on June 26.
It is McBryde’s first coaching role with the tourists and mindful of the quality of the players at his disposal, he has urged them to take the lead in plotting the downfall of the Springboks’ heavyweight pack.
“You’re working with the best forwards across the British and Irish isles. They’ve been a great bunch to work with so far,” the former Wales and current Leinster assistant coach said.
“I’ve asked them to take on a bit more ownership with regards to their roles to provide clarity because they’ve got great experience within the forward pack. It’s second to none.
“I’ve coached against the majority of them when I was in the Wales job. And obviously with Leinster I’ve been working with a few of the Irish boys really closely.
“It’s great to be working with them day to day, getting into their minds to see how they see the game and then putting into place what works for them.
It's about nailing the basics and making sure we're 100 per cent clear of what we're working towards.
“As a coach, I just want to step out the way and help them get to where they want to be and bring out the best in themselves. I’m just trying to channel that without going too far out on any tangent.
“You want them to express themselves in the best way possible. I’ll try to keep out of their way as much as I can.
“From the players and coaches who have been here before, the message across the board has been to keep things simple and low key and then keep adding things as the tour goes on. We’re moving at a nice pace, we’re not standing still.”
McBryde was a part of Wales’ coaching staff when they lost 19-16 to South Africa in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals – the Springboks’ last outings – and knows the pack are the cornerstone of the world champions’ team.
“You look back at their match against Japan, the semi-final against Wales and the final against England and you can see they’re a very hard, physical team to break down,” he said.
“It will be a big challenge for our pack. Set-piece time we saw how effective they were and how big a part the scrum played in the final.
“They pretty much lock off the middle and tail of the line-out from an attacking point of view. Defensively they’re very strong and well organised.
“The maul played a big part in them winning that last penalty against Wales in the semi-final.
“They have six forwards on the bench and whether or not they come up with a different name for the ‘Bomb Squad’, they have depth in the front rows.
“It’s about nailing the basics and making sure we’re 100 per cent clear of what we’re working towards.”