Rugby-Conan says Lions feeling the pressure with series win in sight

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FILE PHOTO: First Test - South Africa v British and Irish Lions
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By Nick Said

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Number eight Jack Conan says there is even more pressure on the British & Irish Lions ahead the second test against South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday as they seek to replicate their impressive 22-17 first-test win and wrap up the series.

The Lions were full value for their victory after a strong second-half showing, and Conan believes now they have shown the standards they can reach, the players are feeling the weight of expectation.

"There is probably even more pressure this week to back up that performance and go out there and get another victory to finish off this series," Conan told reporters on Tuesday.

"So if anything I think everyone is feeling the pressure a bit more, which is pushing the standards in training. Today was one of the best training sessions we have had."

Irishman Conan was one of the stand-out performers against the world champion Springboks, but says he hopes to get more chances with ball in hand in the second test.

"I would like to be a bit more prominent carrying than I was on Saturday, but sometimes it just doesn’t come to you. We have a lot of structure to how we play, so it’s not just about running around heedlessly trying to get on the ball," he said.

"You have to be in the right areas at the right time and making sure you are doing what’s best for the team, whether that is holding the width or getting closer to the ball.

"These big games are not about going out there and doing flashy things. It is about doing the basics and being consistent in everything you do and making sure mistakes are low."

Conan was full of praise for back-row partners Tom Curry and Courtney Lawes, who have both also been retained for the second test.

"We spoke afterwards, the three of us, and we all really enjoyed it. They are two incredible players. Courtney is a freak athlete, for a man his size to move as well as he does is not something I have ever seen before.

"Tom is also just a complete freak, with his energy and his work-rate around the park. I thought we all complimented each other well."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)

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