MX23RW : Tuesday, September 25 13:32:35

Warren Gatland expects backlash from New Zealand in final Test

Warren Gatland warns his British and Irish Lions players to beware a big response from New Zealand after 'poking the bear' with victory in their last meeting.

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has admitted that he is expecting to see a different New Zealand when the two sides lock horns for the third and final time.

The tourists' 24-21 victory in Wellington last weekend has set up a deciding Test at Eden Park, where the All Blacks have not lost since 1994.

Gatland believes that his home nation will have been left hurt by the manner of their rare loss last time out, which he believes is the sporting equivalent of 'poking a bear'.

Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, he said: "Ironically, this is the best team in the world and, for two Test matches, they really haven't stressed us.

"They have squeezed us and made us give away penalties but we haven't seen the expansive rugby that the All Blacks are known for. We've coped with that and, if we can continue to improve in other areas, then we are going to see, hopefully, a great Test match."

Asked if a response is likely next Saturday, he added: "Yes, we have poked the bear but hopefully the wounded Lion from last week is still recovering as well.

"Hopefully we don't give them any ammunition this week and concentrate on ourselves because they will be using anything they can to motivate themselves."

The Lions, who have not won a series in New Zealand since 1971, will have flanker Sean O'Brien available for the deciding Test after being cleared of dangerous play.

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