By Nick Said
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Scrumhalf Ali Price has his eye firmly fixed on a starting berth for the British & Irish Lions in the first test against South Africa next week and hopes to impress coach Warren Gatland in a final warm-up fixture against the Stormers on Saturday.
Price is vying with current tour captain Conor Murray to start against the world champion Springboks and, after the latter failed to impress in the 17-13 loss to South Africa ‘A’ on Wednesday, the door may have opened just a little wider.
"Every game is a trial and you want to put your best foot forward to be in the mix," Price told reporters on Thursday.
"The door is not closed for anyone. We as players need to go out there and make Warren’s job as difficult as possible in terms of selection decisions."
The Stormers are not expected to challenge the Lions on Saturday but the Scotland international said whoever the opposition, each player must make sure their level met the required standard.
"You can only play what’s in front of you. Basics are massive, especially in test matches against tough opposition," added Price.
"So my box-kicking, distribution, organisation and chat around my defensive role, they are the qualities that the head coach is going to look for going into the first test.
"If I can bring all that on Saturday, then I will put myself in the window to hopefully be selected."
Price believes the key is to treat the Stormers game like it is a test match, but also not to be so rigid that they do not grab opportunities that present themselves.
"We have the structures in place, but if there are massive gaps or there is a short side to be exposed, I am not going to not take it just because I don’t think that is what will be presented to me in the test series.
"So continuing to build as a squad, combinations and getting our shape and defensive structures right. It is all about those last three matches (against the Boks)."
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)