Lions tour 2019: Great Britain vow to rebound for first Test against New Zealand
By PA Media
Last Updated: 28/10/19 11:43am
Tom Burgess and Gareth Widdop have vowed Great Britain will bounce back from the embarrassment of an opening defeat by a Tonga Invitational XIII as they prepare for back-to-back Tests against New Zealand.
Back in action after a 12-year absence, the Lions are licking their wounds after being given a rude awakening on their return to the international scene in Hamilton.
"We've got to look at where we can improve," Lions prop Burgess said. "We matched them on effort, we've just got to tidy a few things up and execute a little bit better.
"Tonga played well and fair play to them. It's good to see them up there competing with the top tier teams but we need to have a look this week and see where we can get better.
"We've got quite a few players coming in who are new to the team. We didn't have a mid-season Test so it has been 12 months since we've been together.
"We need to have a good week's training and look forward to New Zealand."
The Kiwis, too, will go in Saturday's first Test in Auckland on the back of a sobering defeat, with Michael Maguire's men proving no match for Australia in a 26-4 defeat in Woollongong.
"They're a good football team as well but it's more about ourselves," said Great Britain stand-off Widdop.
"We need to hold the ball and we need a better kicking game. If we can do that and build some pressure on them, it will make the game a lot easier.
"Tonga are a good football team, we knew that, but we probably didn't make it easy for ourselves. I thought the effort was really good but when you are giving up so much ball it's difficult, we just didn't have enough time to wind it back.
"Obviously it's a disappointing result but we'll move on and get back in training this week, work hard and look to produce a better performance next week."
Lions coach Wayne Bennett is likely bring in utility back Jake Connor in place of Gildart while Jack Hughes could profit from the absence of Thompson, having been the other player to be left out of his 19-man squad in Hamilton.
Meanwhile, the victorious Tongans will join Great Britain in making the move up to Auckland where they will take on the Kangaroos in a triple-header at Eden Park on Saturday.
Warrington Wolves forward Ben Murdoch-Masila, one of three Super League-based players in the Tongan team, says the Pacific Islanders are confident of being able to claim another major scalp.
"Obviously coming up against the number one country in the world will be a good test for us but, going on Saturday's performance, I think we're in with a chance," Mudoch-Masila said.
"We're real proud of what we've done, we've made a statement."