Gatland warns loose cannon Farrell to keep powder dry

Sun, 02/06/2013, 02:00 am staff
by staff

HONG KONG: Warren Gatland has warned Owen Farrell he cannot afford to lose his discipline again after the England five-eighth traded blows with Schalk Brits during the British and Irish Lions' 59-8 win against the Barbarians.

Farrell, making his Lions debut, was punched in the jaw by Brits, his club teammate at Saracens. He retaliated with a forearm to Brits' face and then sought to wrestle the South African to the ground.

Brits was shown the yellow card for his role in the ninth-minute incident, although referee Steve Walsh indicated he would have been sent off had it been a competitive game. He was also cited. Farrell escaped the same sanction but Gatland made it clear the 21-year-old would not get away with reacting in the same way in the face of the fierce provocation that awaits in Australia.

''There are times when you need to take one for the team,'' the coach said. ''You can't retaliate because the consequences of your retaliation can be severe as well.

''It is pretty hard not to react when you are hit square on the jaw but we will emphasise that it is hugely important that the team keeps its discipline. We will be under the microscope a heck of a lot more when we get to Australia.''

Farrell, who scored 15 points with the boot but struggled in other aspects of his game, has had issues with his fiery temperament. Like most players on both sides, he struggled to adapt to the energy-sapping conditions on one of Hong Kong's hottest days of the past half-century, as humidity soared to 97 per cent.

''It was incredibly hard, the most difficult I have ever experienced,'' Lions captain Paul O'Connell said.

The teams had two formal water breaks in each half. ''When you are huffing and puffing, normally your heart rate goes back down at the next lineout but that wasn't the case here,'' O'Connell said.

Gatland, whose team is due to arrive in Perth on Monday for the game against Western Force on Wednesday, insisted the five-day stop-off in Hong Kong had been beneficial, even though there have been questions as to its relevance.

''We have got to realise that there are commercial responsibilities,'' he said. ''The heat and training has given us the same benefits as if we had been at altitude.''

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