NOOSA HEADS, Australia (AP) — The British and Irish Lions arrived Sunday for a four-day getaway in this holiday resort town on Australia's Sunshine Coast, not much in the mood for a vacation after what had occurred over the previous day.
With their captain Sam Warburton left behind in Melbourne to have scans on a hamstring injury, the team was left to ponder what-if a last-play penalty attempt by their kicking ace Leigh Halfpenny had gone over instead of falling short. The Wallabies escaped with a 16-15 win in Melbourne on Saturday night, just as the Lions had a week earlier when a missed Kurtley Beale penalty attempt on the siren allowed the visitors to win the opener 23-21 at Brisbane.
"Twenty-four hours later and there is still a certain bit of emotion and what we had at stake," assistant coach Andy Farrell told a news conference in Noosa on Sunday.
The loss leaves the series level at 1-1 ahead of the third test in Sydney on Saturday, not the scenario coach Warren Gatland had in mind when he wrote of the "surfing, paddle-boarding lessons, kayak tours and great hiking ... and for a bit of rest and relaxation, there are loads of cafes, markets and top-class restaurants" in a British newspaper before the squad left for Australia.
He was referring to Noosa, where the team is staying in a five-star hotel on the main beach strip from Sunday until Thursday, when they'll fly to Sydney for final preparations ahead of the decider.
While most of the team will have some rest and relaxation, Farrell said Warburton's scans weren't scheduled until Sunday evening, and the team hopes to have a better idea Monday on his availability for Sydney next weekend.
"We've come to Noosa for a couple of days off and we'll lick our wounds and get back to what we have to do on Tuesday and Wednesday this week," Farrell said. "We all realize it's the biggest game of our lives and we'll see what comes of it."
Farrell said most of the squad will have two days off training, the exception being center Jamie Roberts and prop Alex Corbisiero, who will undergo a fitness session Monday to determine their availability for the third test.
"There are a few boys training tomorrow and they will go hard," Farrell said. "The rest of the squad have a couple of days off and we'll train on Wednesday and Thursday."
Roberts is recovering from a hamstring injury he sustained in a tour match against New South Wales on June 15, while Corbisiero, a late tour injury replacement himself, has a calf ailment. Both are expected to come into test consideration if fit. Roberts strong, direct running in the midfield could help the Lions in phase and broken play, and Corbisiero is an expert scrummager and should shore up some of the problems the pack had in the set piece against the Australians in Melbourne.
Hooker Tom Youngs, who had back spasms during Saturday's match, on Sunday said he was fit and ready to play in the third test if chosen when the Lions name their team on Wednesday.
Large red banners welcoming the team and several hundred of their fans were in the main drag Hastings Street on Sunday and restaurant staff wore red buttons welcoming the team and the overseas visitors.
The coastal area wasn't living up to its name on Sunday for the team's arrival. It was gloomy, with on-and-off rain showers, and the forecast was similar for the team's first training day Monday at the Noosa Dolphins rugby ground which the local council recently refurbished at a cost of $60,000 when the Lions confirmed it as a training base.
That decision was made a year ago, when tour manager Andy Irvine and Gatland made a reconnaissance trip to check out the facilities.
Scotland-born Donald McKill, a member of the Dolphins club, had connections with Scottish rugby before he moved to Australia seven years ago.
"I invited them to come and have a look," McKill told local media. "They fell in love with the place and loved the venue."
Gatland appeared to agree, when speaking of his scouting trip, wrote: "Checking out Noosa was a tough job, but someone had to do it."
A year later, Gatland finds himself back in his self-described paradise, but with the series poised ahead of the final test, surfing and kayak tours may have to take a back seat to the training pitch.