Rugby Union


The message Sonny Bill Williams sent Anthony Watson after the second Test

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Football News

The stage is set for a perfect finale for the British and Irish Lions to end their tour of New Zealand with a historic win in the third Test on Saturday.

The visitors levelled the series 1-1 with a narrow victory against the world champions last weekend but one familiar face will not be taking the field for the crucial decider at Eden Park.

All Blacks ace Sonny Bill Williams who received a red card after a dangerous tackle on Anthony Watson, leaving French referee Jerome Garces no other choice than to send-off the Blues centre.

Yet, Watson has come out in support of the beleaguered star, speaking about the incident that resulted in him going off the pitch for treatment for the first time.

"I remember everything. Obviously, it was a big tackle and I had to go off for the head injury assessment, but felt fine," he told Sky Sports.

"I came back on and felt fine and have done all the protocols stuff, so everything has gone to plan. I had to brace myself for it, I guess, but it's part and parcel of the game, so it is what it is."

The Lions' fullback revealed that Williams messaged him after the game through social media, apologising for the dangerous tackle.

"He [Williams] messaged me on Twitter to say there was no intention, and I don't doubt that.

"I don't think he is a malicious player, so I don't think he intentionally led with his shoulder to hurt me or anything like that. It's just unfortunate, I guess."

The 31-year-old New Zealand international will be sidelined after receiving a four-week ban for the offence and can only spectate in the final Test.

Meanwhile, Watson is optimistic about the Lions' chances to secure a memorable series win on foreign soil.

He added: "It's all about winning. Going home as 2-1 losers, you are still a loser, so for me, we want to win.

New Zealand v British & Irish Lions

"In my head, for me personally, it's about trying to get a win on Saturday."

But the Bath star is pragmatic and advised the squad not to underestimate the potential of the hosts, who are still favourites to win.

"I wouldn't say we've got them (New Zealand) on the ropes, but we've definitely got to keep our momentum pushing forward on the back of a victory at the weekend.

"With the All Blacks, it's very much a case of expect the unexpected. They've attacked in two different ways in the last two games, so who knows what way they will attack in the third Test and what way they will defend? It's about us preparing for anything."

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