Warren Gatland has moved to downplay fears around Jared Payne’s continued calf strain struggles after the British and Irish Lions suffered a 22-16 defeat to the Blues.
Payne carried his calf issue into the Lions tour, and was a late withdrawal from the tour-opening 13-7 win over the Provincial Barbarians.
The Ireland centre shook off that issue well enough to start against the Blues, but limped out of the contest in obvious pain – although head coach Gatland insisted Payne is not an undue injury concern.
Dan Biggar failed a head injury assessment (HIA) after taking a heavy hit, but Gatland also insisted the Wales fly-half’s problem is not a big worry either.
“Jared Payne had a tight calf but we knew about that,” said Gatland. “Jared’s had that calf [problem] for a while, so the pleasing thing is he’s got through 50 to 60 minutes. We knew at half-time it was a bit tight, but hopefully the calf will strengthen up hopefully.
“Dan Biggar failed an HIA but the medics aren’t too concerned about that. And Rhys Webb just has cramp. So at this point we’re reasonably happy with where we are on injuries.”
Gatland bemoaned the Lions’ profligacy on the penalty front and challenged his squad to shape up quickly. The next stop for the Lions will be to face the Crusaders in Canterbury on Saturday – a team boasting a flawless 14 wins from 14 matches in Super Rugby this term.
“The big message from Andy Farrell to the players was the penalty count,” said Gatland. “The first two games we have been a bit soft in that area and we’ve got to be hard on ourselves as players and coaches to tighten up on that.
“We need to be tough on ourselves, there were a lot of momentum swings because of penalties we’ve given away, it’s some you’d consider soft or needless. So we definitely need to tighten up in that area and be hard on ourselves.”