13 Jul Lions Inspired by Michael Johnson

Sam Warburton and the British & Irish Lions were inspired by the words of sprinting legend Michael Johnson in the final Test against the All Blacks.

After a series that had everything apart from an outright winner, Warburton explained Johnson’s wise words gave him and the Lions strength going into that final test at Eden Park.

“I read a great quote from Michael Johnson which stuck with me,” Said Warburton. “He said: ‘Pressure is just the shadow of great opportunity.’ That’s how I see it. Don’t be afraid of what you could lose. Be excited about what you could achieve. You’ve got to be brave, take chances and make things happen. When you get in the real big games, you don’t want occasions to blur for players. You still want them to have a go, play with freedom and instinct.”

The Lions were certainly true to their pre-tour word about giving it everything. If the final body count was slightly lower than expected, the scans awaiting Sean O’Brien and Johnny Sexton, both high‑class Test “animals”, before they fly home were a reminder of just how much commitment these tours require.

Warburton, for example, found it difficult to address his players beforehand, so conscious was he of the magnitude of the occasion: “I probably didn’t say as much as I normally would because I felt very emotional before the game. You think of all sorts – my family, my little girl, my wife – and all the things you sacrifice to get here: your diet, your sleep, your lifestyle. When I chat to youngsters, I always say to them that being a professional rugby player is a lifestyle. It’s not about the five or six hours you’re at a training ground each day, it is what you do off the field, how you look after yourself. When you have been committed for four years and you get to a Lions series, all that effort goes into one 80-minute game. You just want to do yourself justice.”

Read the full article at The Guardian.