The British and Irish Lions can win in New Zealand – but do they believe it?

Jack Colwill Roar Rookie

By Jack Colwill, Jack Colwill is a Roar Rookie

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    “When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

    This famous (albeit misquoted) sentiment, attributed to Plutarch speaking about Alexander the Great, is one that will strike a chord with any modern rugby fan as they contemplate the possibility of their country going to New Zealand.

    Whenever any nation ventures down to the home of the All Blacks, they go with an air of doom about them, an understanding that they are on a kamikaze mission of sorts, to do what the barest few in world rugby have ever done and take down the undisputed kings of the game in their own backyard.

    They boast the highly enviable record of not having lost a Test match at home in almost eight years, when they were downed by three points by South Africa.

    Even when we go back to 2003, when they went down 15-13 in Wellington, it took an England side at the absolute height of its powers who would go on to claim a maiden World Cup a few months later to scrape past them in New Zealand.

    It took one of the best sides the world has seen to place a mark in the almost unfairly consistent record that is Test match rugby in New Zealand.

    It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour – into the proverbial lion’s den, if you will – has been treated with extreme caution and restrictions on optimism.

    After all, the last tour down that way ended with Brian O’Driscoll hospitalised after a minute of the First Test, a Second Test remembered for Dan Carter delivering arguably the greatest individual performance of all time, and a series overall that may as well have delivered the Lions back to Blighty in body bags.

    However, there are differences this time around. Even then, the Lions squad that travelled in 2005 was considered under-par.

    They had an admittedly successful coach who had been pulled back into the game fairly drastically after moving on from rugby, and the whole tour was marred by the furore over the presence of former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell as a media consultant.

    This time, however, there has been nothing about optimism about the quality of the squad making the journey. When players like Joe Launchbury, arguably the player of the Six Nations, a Finn Russell in arguably the form of his life and Lions stalwart Jamie Heaslip are left behind, you know you are taking some serious power with you.

    Gatland bucked the trends with his squad. Yes, he took some players out of loyalty, but they were players that had proven that they stepped up for the Lions jersey in 2013.

    Yes, he named Sam Warburton as captain again, but he went to great lengths to state that the on-field captaincy is up for grabs and let’s be honest, is there a better man in that squad to act as an off-field captain and media-facer than Sam? I don’t think so.

    AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE

    But Gatland picked not just the best players, as other coaches have done before. Picking guys like Ben Te’o, Ross Moriarty, Jared Payne and Kyle Sinckler, who are not even established international starters yet, Gatland has clearly picked to a game plan and given himself options.

    He has picked a squad based on what he has seen from each player and pieced together the elements of their games that will fit best into the side he wants to create, rather than hoping that rubbing enough good players together will create a good team.

    So the obvious question arises – is this a squad capable of not just winning a single Test match in New Zealand, but a series to boot?

    Yes.

    This squad is bursting with brilliant individual players, but also players who understand Southern Hemisphere rugby that bit better and players who can rattle the All Blacks. It is not to say necessarily that they are man-for-man better across the board than the world champions, but collectively it all holds up very well for the Lions on paper.

    However, as we know with New Zealand, on paper and on-field are two very different things.

    There is one simple thing that needs to change for the Lions to win in New Zealand. It is not tactically, in terms of personnel, or anything like that.

    It is a simple question of the underlying mentality of the squad. Between now and the First Test, Gatland and his squad will talk constantly about how they believe they can beat the All Blacks. However, the question of to how far those individual players actually do believe it is going to define this tour.

    Players will be putting forward the optimistic facade as soon as they touch down in New Zealand, but there will be players who still, at the back of their mind, remain aware of the uncharted territory they are attempting to breach.

    No player in that squad has won in New Zealand before, and quite a few have never even played there. That will have an impact.

    Gatland’s biggest task in assembling another series win is to convince every player in that squad, 100 per cent, that they can win. He needs to rid every mind of the doubts about the atmosphere, the quality of the opposition, and the nature of Lions squads being a little fractured to begin with.

    Wales' head coach Warren Gatland

    (Mike Egerton/PA Wire)

    He needs to keep his squad focused on themselves, the qualities they possess and the rugby they want to play. If the eyes and mind of the players wander to the All Blacks, doubts begin to emerge and the game is up – New Zealand have got you in that well-worn web.

    This may well be the best Lions squad ever assembled – at least in modern tour history. It is a squad that would be roundly backed for a series win were they going to South Africa or Australia. But, maybe it is fitting – to play the best, the Lions are taking the best they have had.

    This is the biggest opportunity to win in New Zealand that any team has ever had, and whether or not they can take will come down to how much they believe they can do it.

    No-one can coach that. Gatland can do as much as he can to convince them, but it will come down to the players and their inner belief.

    Over to you, Lions.

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    The Crowd Says (252)

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2017 @ 3:45am
      taylorman said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:45am | ! Report

      Still fail to understand where ‘the best Lions in modern history’ comes from, not that that’s such a difficult achievement given most Lions sides are pretty average these days.

      But let’s look at the sides that make up the Lions. The team itself has one one in ten tests, and one in eleven tours.

      Of the four countries, none of Wales, Scotland nor Ireland has ever won a test in NZ, across 32 attempts between them. Last time England won here was in 2003, and 1973 before that.

      Recent tours by England, Ireland and Wales have all ended up 3 zip, where two or three could be called close results, the rest comfortable wins.

      The only positive through all that is an Ireland win in Chicago. Is that one win the main reason behind this best Lions team ever? Or is it the fact that England has beaten many non NZ sides recently?

      In fact I’m guessing that this years squad has probably individually lost morevtests to NZ than any other Lions side in history if you add their results up individually, and I bet that’s well over 100 between them, a wild guess mind you, though some players have more than their fare share, certainly the coach has.

      Other than that they’ve done what they’ve always done, played a mildly interesting Six nations.

      Don’t get where ‘this team’ is sooooo much better than the others. They might be, but I just don’t see any solid evidence of it other than …gee, I have a feeling that this time….

      • May 16th 2017 @ 6:03am
        englishbob said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:03am | ! Report

        cant argue with a lot of that, one of the pleasures or perils depending on your point of view of a lions tour is how they’ll gel but until then I really don’t know. I do think the component parts are better than the last two squads though., 2013 is no judge of how this team will do, that wallaby side was not a classic vintage to put it politely and the almost never ending penalty stream they got at scrum time will be nullified because the AB’s are at least as strong as any other team in the set piece.
        Based on Ireland beating NZ last year then yeah they do have a chance because this lions team is better than that Irish team man for man, BUT Gatland has proven time and again he can’t pick a team to beat Aus/NZ and tactically he’s limited.
        So in depressing summary, can they Yes, will they, No almost certainly not.

        • Roar Guru

          May 16th 2017 @ 10:15am
          taylorman said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          Yes Gatland is a major in my opinion. Don’t see the point in having the guts of two higher ranked and better recent results sides being coached by someone who has a gameplan mostly foreign to the players of those sides.

          Where Jones disregarded all the common courtesies of selection and went against all the trends to focus solely on winning, it seems the establishment want be respectful and honourable in that sense when what’s needed here is a real dog eat dog of a side prepared to budge at nothing.

          Instead theyre going through the motions, playing all the right rules. I mean not meaning to be judgemental but this morning I read an article about one of the players aiming to be keeping calm by playing leggo in his spare time!

          • May 16th 2017 @ 6:16pm
            Henry Honey Balls said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

            Taylorman, did you know that in 100 plus years Ireland have only played 12 games in New Zealand whereas Australia for example have played 73 and won 15. If Ireland had played 73 games in NZ I’m sure they would have at least a couple of wins especially given that at least a few of the games have been won by very small margins.

            Also the last time the Lions did win in NZ some of the key Lions players were Irish. Gibson, McBride and Slattery for example.

            • May 17th 2017 @ 9:57am
              Old Bugger said | May 17th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

              Henry

              It’d be interesting to know, how many times Ireland have played the WBs and what the record is, over the past 100years. Would you know…….?? I don’t but then again, folks are not really interested in comparisons – only actual results irrespective of whether those involved 12matches or 73matches.

              But, it does stand to reason that the more times you play an opponent then, the more opportunities you get, to defeat that opponent.

              However, I do agree with your final sentence – those players were exceptional.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 1:07am
                taylorman said | May 18th 2017 @ 1:07am | ! Report

                21 wins from 33 matches OB.

            • Roar Guru

              May 18th 2017 @ 1:05am
              taylorman said | May 18th 2017 @ 1:05am | ! Report

              Yes I did know that. And yes I agree, Ireland probably would win more through more regular contact. But it is what it is.

              Sydney is actually the ABs worst venue by some distance, having lost twenty tests there alone and only a 56% win rate.

              Percentage wise Jburg is the worst with 9 losses and seven wins. It’s the only venue the ABs have an inferior win rate anywhere.

      • May 16th 2017 @ 10:05am
        Pinetree said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        I can’t see the ABs putting out 2nd string locks (including Kaino at 5) like he did against Ireland (on a narrow field as well!). The selection from Hansen was poor against Ireland and he underestimated the tactics of Ireland to expose the line out weakness. This mistake will not be made against the Lions of cause. My only concern is when a game gets tight if BB can control a game via territory kicking like a traditional 1st 5. I believe it was not only the locks, but BB inability to play a kicking game when attacking options were nullified that contributed to the Ireland loss. BB’s game is so strong that I think we forget that if a game came down to a difference of territory kicking and place goal kicking, we could easily lose that game. In saying that, I am not sure that the Lions can gel quick enough to create a defensive pattern that could deny the AB tries and I think that it will probably be 3-0 to the ABs,

      • Columnist

        May 16th 2017 @ 4:52pm
        Nicholas Bishop said | May 16th 2017 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

        I think you’re very much on the right track here T-man.

        There seems to be a confusion between the ‘latest’ version and the ‘best’ version… Having seen the 2001 Lions close up, I fail to see the 2017 version having anything like the same top end star quality.

        That team had Keith Wood, Martin Johnson, Scott Quinnell, Richard Hill, Rob Howley, Jonny Wilkinson, Brian O’Driscoll and Jason Robinson in it. Other stars like Lawrence Dallaglio and Will Greenwood got injured and didn’t play.

        Where is the same quality in the current squad? I can see only Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola in the forwards, and Owen Farrell and George North (and maybe Hogg or Williams at f/b) in the backs, getting into that 2001 Test side.

        • Roar Guru

          May 18th 2017 @ 1:18am
          taylorman said | May 18th 2017 @ 1:18am | ! Report

          Not meaning to be so dismissive Nick but obviously I’m swayed by the past…you don’t know where you’re going when you don’t know where you’ve been, and for me every Lions side typifies that nicely.

          They’re put together every so often and none of them really owns the former sides of the past as the ABs do.

          Neutrals views here though are really showing a poor understanding of what it’s like for a Lions side to tour here. Unlike the usual June series this gets top priority since the World Cup.

          It’s bigger than the Rugby Championship and that makes the putting together of a side at short notice so flawed it’s almost unfair.

          He picks 2-1 and how they’ll get two I don’t know but if he’s right there will be a lot of folks with more eggs on their faces than me so I’m not concerned about that part of making a confident prediction.

          Itoje will be interesting as he’s never faced the ABs so his performances will be watched closely by Hansen and co I would think. Good to see Williams back, my fave NH player as you know.

          • Columnist

            May 18th 2017 @ 6:09pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | May 18th 2017 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

            I do believe you’re right about the past T-man, and the impact that kind of provenance has on a team – though I would not reach nearly as far as some of the quasi-mystical claptrap I’ve had to endure about it in recent articles on The Roar!

            If the Lions can win the first Test they will be a chance – and they certainly have the tools win a Test in this series… So there is a real possibility there. Ultimately I suspect the weight of the poor scheduling and prep time will count against them. I also believe that the selection was quite poor in terms of strengthening squad unity – they could have afforded to pick more Scots for example, simply to reinforce the sense of support from those on the periphery of a 41-man squad.

            There will be several notable performances from individual Lions, and I would be surprised if Maro Itoje is not one of them. Kruis or AWJ + Itoje vs. Retallick + Whitelock promises to be a battle royal. Owen Farrell and Liam Williams are others who I suspect will rise to the challenge. The question is whether there will be enough of them, and whether they will have the cohesion to make the individual performances count.

      • May 16th 2017 @ 5:36pm
        wyn said | May 16th 2017 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

        One-one was a racehorse, Two-two was one too. One-one won a race, Two-two won one too. 😉

        • May 18th 2017 @ 12:46pm
          moaman said | May 18th 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

          Nice1Wyn (nice one win??) 😉

      • May 17th 2017 @ 7:05pm
        Rebellion said | May 17th 2017 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

        This would be an upset up there with Japan beating the Springboks at RWC2015 so large is the gap in class.
        The All Blacks would have to choke almost as badly as the Aussie swimmers did at the London Olympics

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2017 @ 3:51am
      biltongbek said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:51am | ! Report

      I think the Lions need to win the test series comprehensively to be called the best British and Irish Lions squad of all time.

      They are facing arguibly the best squad of all time, so they will deservedly be able to call themselves the best if they win.

      • May 16th 2017 @ 5:03am
        P2R2 said | May 16th 2017 @ 5:03am | ! Report

        but they wont….

      • Roar Guru

        May 16th 2017 @ 5:07am
        taylorman said | May 16th 2017 @ 5:07am | ! Report

        One of the possibilities BB is that everyone could have completely gone off the tour after the Blues, Saders and Maori matches if they get pummelled in each.

        The Lions need to look at each match and decide one thing. Do they want to win it? If the answer is yes, they need to play their best side and play it like a test. If their answer is no they need to play their worst and hope for a result.

        A midweek team for example will be annhialted by the Crusaders full side, unless it is so wet it becomes a huge leveller, also a possibility.

        They say the Lions pack will be more than capable of handling NZ sides.

        Well what about tired packs? They won’t have played anything like the pace or intensity in recent club rugby.

        I watched a couple of recent NH matches and besides the slow pace the breakdowns are so non committal, each side seemingly prepared to allow the other it’s own ball, little attempt at slowing the ball down, disrupting the play.

        • Roar Guru

          May 16th 2017 @ 5:13am
          biltongbek said | May 16th 2017 @ 5:13am | ! Report

          We will have to see Tman, if you are going to allow the New Zealand teams free reign at their own ball it will bite you in the backside.

          The more freedom they have the faster the game gets.

          I would expect Gatland to have his charges compete at every breakdown to slow the game

          • May 19th 2017 @ 9:18pm
            Goatee said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:18pm | ! Report

            T/Man “I watched a couple of recent NH matches”

            In your dreams, Taylorman… in your dreams…

        • Roar Pro

          May 16th 2017 @ 7:48am
          Colm said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:48am | ! Report

          It’s hard to see the Maori All Blacks beating the British and Irish Lions when they couldn’t even beat a largely second string Munster team.

          • Roar Guru

            May 16th 2017 @ 8:54am
            Poth Ale said | May 16th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

            Ah but that was a third string Maori side and it was raining and in Munster.

            What was the score the last time the Lions played the Maori in New Zealand?

            • May 16th 2017 @ 9:34am
              sean said | May 16th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

              How is the score in a match 12 years ago even vaguely relevant?

              • May 16th 2017 @ 2:35pm
                KiwiHaydn said | May 16th 2017 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

                About as relevant as a game played by two completely different teams on the opposite side of the world it seems.

          • May 16th 2017 @ 8:54am
            DanFan said | May 16th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

            Oh dear!

          • Roar Guru

            May 16th 2017 @ 10:19am
            taylorman said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

            Yes agree, like the Lions the Maoris are a put together side at short notice.

            My experience is that club sides that have eaten dinner at each others houses for years will always rise up against a put together side…as the Chiefs did last year.

            And guess what the Lions are?

            Three weeks out and only 14? Of their squad were able to attend the first training due to club commitments. Crazy.

            • Roar Guru

              May 16th 2017 @ 10:31am
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

              Well that is still 14 more players than the AB’s have in camp at the moment 😉

            • May 18th 2017 @ 8:41am
              Quin said | May 18th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

              Just to be slightly pedantic.
              The plural of Māori is Māori it does not need an s added.
              Yes I am Māori and I do speak the language.

              • May 18th 2017 @ 12:10pm
                taylorman said | May 18th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

                Yes true, Im Maori also but speak it (and obviously write it) very poorly…apologies.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 2:17pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

                What will the Maori look like against the Lions?
                From what I understand anyone in the AB squad that is not selected against Samoa – and has Maori heritage – will be released to play for the Maori.
                This really excites me, since this could be best Maori side in a very very long time.
                So, and here I don’t doubt you expertise T-man, what will the Maori staring XV look like?

              • May 18th 2017 @ 2:28pm
                Quin said | May 18th 2017 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

                No worries Taylorman, it’s just a pet peeve of mine ?

              • Roar Guru

                May 19th 2017 @ 6:43am
                taylorman said | May 19th 2017 @ 6:43am | ! Report

                That’s a tough one Sweden, it’s hard to know who actually qualifies in terms of any new players. It’s actually not a game I’m particularly fussed about compared to the tests and Super sides, being a one off. Like to know what other kiwis think about this one.

                I think the Ioane brothers will feature though as an outsider I think Reiko could make the ABs if injuries like Ben Smith and SBW persist as he can cover wing and Centre.

                Ash Dixon captained the 2016 side so should he not make the ABs…with Read, Kaino sidelined he probably will.

                Otere Black perhaps at 10. With these types of games I just tend to go with the flow. I know it’s special to Maori, I just struggle with its place in today’s professional environment. They beat the Lions last tour, the only non test side to do so, so they’ll be looking to repeat that.

                For me the Super sides hold more appeal, particularly the Blues and Crusaders who get their All Blacks, due to the familiarity and we played the provinces…mitre 10 sides as they’re known now, last time.

        • May 16th 2017 @ 9:53am
          dontcallmeshirley said | May 16th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          I expect that the Lions will pumel the Blues, Hurricanes and the Maori as those teams have poor set piece. The Blues conceded 3 rollinh maul tries last Fridsy. What do you think the Lions will try?
          The Cane”s scrum got destroyed by a dcrim vastly inferior to that of the Lions.

          • Roar Guru

            May 16th 2017 @ 10:20am
            taylorman said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:20am | ! Report

            I think the Blues at full strength will roll the Lions myself. If they don’t qualify for the Super playoffs guess who target number one for the year will be?

            • Roar Guru

              May 16th 2017 @ 10:34am
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

              HAHAHAHAHA!
              The Blues to roll the Lions?!?!
              Always good to start the day with a huge laugh. My misses complains though, she woke up by my loud laugh.

              • Roar Guru

                May 16th 2017 @ 11:14am
                taylorman said | May 16th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

                Just shows how much you know about NZ rugby…not a lot. Auckland have rolled them before, and will again, though it might depend which of the Saders and the Blues they put their best side out, they can’t do both.

              • May 17th 2017 @ 7:18pm
                Muzzo said | May 17th 2017 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

                Another thing that might be of interest to you The Neutral, is that over all the Lions tours of New Zealand, that both Auckland & Otago ( now the Landers franchise), have had more wins over the tourist, than what they have had over them!! Shall we just wait & see what happens, this time around?????

              • Roar Guru

                May 17th 2017 @ 7:39pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 17th 2017 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

                I you wanna talk history, better to wait after the tour so we have some fresh stats to add.
                If you you wanna talk rugger, tactics, selection etc I am ready ahead of the series also.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 6:47am
                taylorman said | May 18th 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

                Basis of all this negativity towards your comments is basically to deny the history of the All Blacks is to deny the All Blacks themselves, for their history is the All Blacks.

                And you really dont wanna be doing that. The Lions certainly wont be, as hard to try they might.

        • Roar Guru

          May 16th 2017 @ 10:30am
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          All this talk about the Lions will get pummeled before the series. What are you boys thinking? Have you boys forgotten that even Kiwi players can get injured? Considering how many of your regular starters that are doing rehab this year that would be kind of funny.
          And where will be AB players in the Crusaders, Blues and Maori game. You think they will be invisible or what? And then the real beauty, Samoa. Since then did Samoa starting to play soft rugby?
          The 20 or so Lions players that are considered for start the Tests, will play against the Maoris and maybe one or two other wam up game (but not the full 80). Some Kiwi seems to think that the Lions starting XV is gonna play two games a week before the Test. Wake up boys!
          Also funny to think that so many Kiwi’s totally miss that this schedule was the Lions wish. What better way to prepare for AB’s away? If the Lions are not ready when we the first test kicks off, when they will never be ready. This schedule is perfect. Especially when injuries hit the starting XV, the replacements will be battle harden by the warm up games and know what to expect from the AB’s.

          And all this talk about old stats. That sound like a past champion talking. A real champions knows you are never better than your last game and the only thing that is important is the next one. So close the history books T-man and start calling what you see in front of you right now. All test matches starts at 0-0, and nothing in the world is going to change that.
          You should comfort yourself with that Steve Hansen share my views on this. If he listen to people like you, it would be the beginning to the end right away.

          • Roar Guru

            May 16th 2017 @ 11:18am
            taylorman said | May 16th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

            We know this schedule was the Lions wish, one of the stupidest things they could have done.
            What am Inseeing in front of me now?
            0-0.
            Who is saying Hansen should listen to me? What an absurd comment.

            It’s because he doesn’t listen to me that I can say these things. I can say what I think will happen. He can’t. If he thinks they’ll thrash them, he’s hardly going to say it is he. He has a vested interest in what he says. I don’t. Do you not get the difference?

            • Roar Guru

              May 16th 2017 @ 11:35am
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

              Mein Got, you are really missing the point.
              One more time: close the history books T-man.
              If you say the schedule is stupid, well that means nothing. A one-eyed AB Fan Boy who can not see the forrest because of all the trees. Heck, I say it probably means that the schedule is indeed a very good thing.
              And try to answer this question, with regards to the setup and time limitations, what would be a better way to prepare for the AB’s away? explain to us all what would be the perfect way. Show us once and for all that you know everything about rugby.I get the popcorn while you are writing.

              • May 16th 2017 @ 12:26pm
                Pinetree said | May 16th 2017 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

                With all due respect Neutral, history can tell you quite a few things that matter. If you look at history, the Lions have put through some teams with at the time players that were considered the best in their position in the world at the time.

                The All Blacks current winning percentage has never even been close to what it is now. When the Amateur era finished the ABs had about a 72% win rate which kept pretty steady from decade to decade. Even in this time the Lions could only win 6 matches out of 35 in the amateur era.

                The ABs are now winning 90-95% of games, have not lost at home since 2009, and have not lost at Eden Park where 2 of the games will be played since 1994. Out of Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England only England has won in NZ and that is twice.

                I can’t see any difference in quality from this Lions side to many others and they will play well, but gelling together 4 teams that haven’t ever experience a win in NZ with the current players and expecting them to beat the best AB team in history is a long shot and I would imagine that the odds for the betting agencies will agree. After all they have to put their money where their mouth is.

                So forgive us kiwis for feeling confident of a clean sweep in the tests, we have seen many come and hyped and then sent packing and I expect no different this time.

              • Roar Guru

                May 16th 2017 @ 1:15pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

                Greetings Pinetree

                Well history (1900-1950) is one of my major subjects. Obviously I know we can learn a lot from history. But according to me, one needs to apply a pretty big time span both backwards and forwards to really try to benefit from any big lessons. Here we are talking about an isolated Test series in a very short time span. What happened 2005 has no bearing what so ever on what will happen this summer. And what happen hundred years even less so.
                New players, new coaches, new refs, three times 80 minutes. Best team on the day wins. Sometimes a spade is just a spade.

                I am well aware of AB’s winning stats mate (it is kind of hard to miss out on that when you follow rugby as neutral fan). But these old winning stats has zero influence on what is gonna happen this summer. All they are saying is that AB’s were better on the day in most games they played before, but that means nothing today.

                I call things as I have seen them the last few years and with emphasis on the last 12 months. And I see a clear opportunity for the Lions to win the series. As much as I admire AB’s, I have a pretty good understanding what kind of teams that can hurt them and what kind of kettle that is needed. The Lions size up.

                It was amazing last year that AB’s could go on an perform like they did from the go considering how man world class veterans that retired. But the longer the season went, the less impressive did those hammering of SB, WB and and Pumas look (it was obvious all of them were poor and soft and could only put up a fight for 20-50 minutes and for long periods they were shocking). And as said before, when AB’s faced the NH teams, they were pushed to the limit and looked anything but the number one side that are lightyears ahead (they looked more like England in 6N this year). And they were pushed for the full 80 minutes in every single game.

                This crop of the AB’s could very well be the best one ever, but let us see. This is no walk in the park for the AB’s, a series win would cement them as the greatest team ever, so maybe some Kiwi fans should celebrate the occasion with deserving respect. If Lions was an easy beat, Shag and the boys would not prepare for this even more than they did for the World Cup. And if Lions were so soft and without a chance to win, no GOAT-status will handed out.

                You say can’t see any difference between this Lions and earlier Lions teams? How much do you watch NH rugby? Most of the people who follows NH rugby closely are in agreement that this is the best Lions squad since the early 70:s. Steve Hansen is on the record saying that this is probably the best Lions squad ever to come NZ (one of the few Kiwi’s I know who watches NH rugby closely).

                If you are not watching NH rugby as much as you watch SH rugby, I hope you – and any other Kiwi that prematurly slams the Lions – understand that I can’t take what you are saying serious.
                I am all for a good debate, and I have no problem changing my mind. But tell me something I don’t know. Show me your rugby smarts how you break down the Lions potential game plan and players and how AB’s will counter them and dominate them. Show me that you understand how to nullify them. Show me that you know the strengths and weaknesses of the different players and tell me how you best use them.

              • May 16th 2017 @ 2:47pm
                Ouch said | May 16th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                “When AB’s faced the NH teams, they were pushed to the limit and looked anything but the number one side”

                When the AB’s faced the NH teams it was at the end of a long SXV and test season. “Pushed to the limit” yet still won comfortably.

              • Roar Guru

                May 16th 2017 @ 2:56pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

                yet still won comfortably.

                Solid proof you did not watch the games. Can’t take AB Internet Fans Boys like you seriously.

              • May 16th 2017 @ 7:20pm
                KiwiHaydn said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

                “But these old winning stats has zero influence on what is gonna happen this summer. All they are saying is that AB’s were better on the day in most games they played before, but that means nothing today.”

                Clearly you know little about the All Blacks ethos and terms like “mana” Neutral. Past successes and an unyielding desire to improve is exactly what motivates this team and sets them apart from all others.

                Carrying on the All Blacks tradition, high standards, and an unwavering commitment to excellence, provides huge motivation for the current All Blacks, while the weight of history and the unrelenting black wave has messed with the minds of many great visiting teams.

                Bring it on! This should be a great series.

              • May 17th 2017 @ 4:11pm
                Ouch said | May 17th 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

                huh? Beating a good international side like Ireland 23-9 is a comfortable win…….. those who have played the game will attest. Play a few seasons and get back to me.

                As for me being an ‘AB fanboy’ you are waaayy off the mark. I am Australian but reckon I have had more exposure to the Kiwi rugby psyche than an arrogant loud mouth from 10 000 miles away who has (most likely) never played the game, never attended a game or visited NZ and seen how ferocious the Kiwis can be when it comes to rugby.

              • Roar Guru

                May 17th 2017 @ 4:15pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 17th 2017 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

                It was 21-9 Bigmouth. And it as a close game in the balance for a long time.
                You claiming you know about rugby looks just foolish when you claim AB’s won with comfort.
                I doubt you are an Aussie. You click all the boxes for an AB Internet Fan Boy with an open relationship to the truth.

              • May 17th 2017 @ 7:31pm
                Muzzo said | May 17th 2017 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

                I’m with T/man on this one, as it shows, that your overall knowledge of Kiwi, & AB rugby, is very limited, Neutral, Shall we just stop, till after the tour, & then we can make full assessment,& judgement, on this particular tour. You never know, you might be able to say, “I told you so!”, but I myself really doubt it..

              • Roar Guru

                May 17th 2017 @ 7:42pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 17th 2017 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

                Oh! Hush Muzzo!

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 2:23pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

                KiwiHayden

                the weight of history and the unrelenting black wave has messed with the minds of many great visiting teams.

                Well, if you put it like that, I would say that the weight of that black jersey have made AB’s underperform several times also 😉

                It is nice to wear black when things click – as they usually do – but when things get ugly, that black jersey fast transforms to a rope around the players neck.
                I have seen the chokes, I have seen the malice from NZ public when the AB’s don’t win. I know how these things work.

              • May 18th 2017 @ 2:31pm
                Trivette said | May 18th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

                Neutral is right. History won’t mean a thing when the Lions face the All Blacks because if it did there would be no point in this series happening. I tell this to anyone who thinks All Blacks will win every contest they play. Rugby is a sport and anything can happen.

                anyone failing to see the difference between this Lions team and the past ones means you will be in shock when you see the talent the Lions have selected. When you look at the selection you think Warren-ball but I see enough talent to dismantle the All Blacks. Nowell, Watson, Daly, Hogg can unlock any defense. The services from Farrell or Sexton is always great. Conor Murray is an exceptional scrum-half and I expect him to start.

                Lions do not have the better players across the whole park, but they do pose enough threat to defeat the All Blacks and score tries. The Lions won’t go into this trying to match up to the All Blacks, it’s about playing to their strengths and they have enough versatile players to switch it up.

                As for All Blacks, we know what they have and what they will have to offer. Their execution is the best in the world in all areas. All this about their history and what it means to them, means nothing to the Lions and vice-versa. When you’re out on that field playing, you’re not thinking of what Jersey you’re wearing and why, you’re simply there to play rugby.

            • Roar Guru

              May 16th 2017 @ 11:53am
              taylorman said | May 16th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

              When you separate the woods from the trees with Lions tours you see a lot of losses, that’s my point. Anyway, you have no idea about Lions tours here so go read a book, stop wasting everyone’s time. From an earlier comment you hadn’t even played the game.

              So never played, never followed a Lions tour in NZ, and somehow you’re an expert, telling kiwis how to comment on this game.

              Pfff.

              • Roar Guru

                May 16th 2017 @ 1:23pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

                Don’t forget to turn of the light when you leave the Library T-man. You must have been in there a long time by now…

              • May 16th 2017 @ 3:49pm
                timber said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

                I think Tman makes a valid point.
                Every Lions tour I’ve followed, since 1993, has claimed “the best Lions team ever” status prior to touring.
                We’ll soon see and no doubt this looks to be a formidable Lions side, but until then any claim to being the best is entirely conjecture.

              • May 17th 2017 @ 2:57am
                FunBus said | May 17th 2017 @ 2:57am | ! Report

                ‘Every Lions tour I’ve followed, since 1993, has claimed “the best Lions team ever” status prior to touring’

                No they haven’t; that’s pure nonsense and the sort of throw away line that makes NH rugby fans roll their eyes. The best Lions team was 1974. The second best 1971. I actually thought the third best was 2001, a tour largely screwed up by Henry (as even he admits). The 2005 side had far too many over the hill (and returning from injury) England players in the side and the team spirit was all over the shop.

                This is definitely the best Lions squad since 2001. Of particular note is the depth. It’s difficult to pick the starting Lion’s 23, suggesting that references to the Chiefs hammering the Welsh dirt-trackers suggests a lack of knowledge on the players (although it also suggests a lack of World XV players). Whether the Lions are good enough to beat the ABs we’ll soon see, logic makes the ABs clear favourites, but this notion that somehow there’ll be a bunch of fat no-hopers in the midweek games is ludicrous.

            • May 16th 2017 @ 7:27pm
              Pinetree said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

              Sorry Neutral, been working and I am a bit short on time, but I will give you a short reply. I need to see the team selected before I can really comment on the Lions side that will play the ABs. My main concern for the Lions is the way the Lions team is coached by Gatland and the difficulties of gelling a team together in a space of a few weeks.

              Gatland coaching style while effective, is rather predicable. He likes big midfielders who punch it up the middle and a abrasive forward pack that is good at the breakdown and go forward meters ramming it up the field. The problem with this is that the ABs play an in-out defence and have since Henry was coach. This means that the ABs keep tight in field and spread to cover the flanks. An out-in defence would spread wider and back themselves to close the gaps when needed. This means that the ABs are tempting the team to go wide if they want to score tries , which in turn can turn bad if a player is tackled without support on the wing for an AB counter attack. The midfield bashing from Gatland will be ineffective if play out.

              If the ABs have Whitelock and Retallick, then the Lions will find no joy in the lineouts and breakdown. Where the Lions can expose the ABs is if they can make the game a kicking contest, but that will require dominating territory and possession and a huge defence effort. The Lions have better kickers than the ABs and would win a territory kicking contest. They would need to then force the ABs into poor exit kicks for a own line out throw to pressure the AB line.

              I will comment more when I know the selection of the team, and sorry for a brief analysis, but I do not think that the Lions can stop the AB back line to score tries as our forwards will get parity or close to it, the Lions will run midfield into a wall of defence hungry for a turnover and broken play to counter on. I would of put Eddie Jones as coach, selected the England team, and only use players from the other 3 nations where they were obviously better, The team would have a chance to gel undera already known system to most rather than trying to represent all nations and having a team is so mixed that full cohesion is almost impossible.

              • Roar Guru

                May 16th 2017 @ 8:28pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 8:28pm | ! Report

                Thanks Pinetree. Really good and informative answer. And hey, this is more fun and educational than raping old stats. At least for me.

                I am thinking a lot about Gatland also. But I think he has – by choice or by circumstances – already tied himself to a few things tactically. Andy Farrell his defense coach. That means Ireland. By some distance the defense that has put most pressure on AB’s lately. Small tweaks will be done, and some English players will be spread out among Irish forwards, but I expect a very similar tactics to Chicago and Dublin. it will be relentless pressure, but this time with both better quality and depth.

                My general conception of Gats is that he is not a Rugby guru a’la Fozzy or Joe Schmidt. Me too think he is one dimensional. But that does not need to be a bad thing, since there is so little time anyway. Keep it simple and keep straight forward.
                Among the backs I guess Gats has two plans. Of course he has his old school Warrenball at hand as a plan B, but if the Lions gonna spark the creativity needed – even in an arm wrestle – to score enough points to beat AB’s they need all three of their creative maestros on field at the same time, meaning Farrell will play at twelve. There is no way the Lions will beat the AB’s without at least scoring 30 points.

                One thing I don’t worry about at all, is that Gats will make any selection due to someones nationality. That he proved on the last tour. He did not pick ten Welsh players in the third Test because of bias, it was totally fair call at the moment.
                And considering how many times he has repeated that being tour captain does not mean an automatic Test spot the last month? Wales players aiming for Test 23 will have to earn it. And only Liam Williams is certain among the Welsh.

              • May 17th 2017 @ 5:56pm
                Pinetree said | May 17th 2017 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

                Neutral – It will be interesting if Gatland goes for O Farrell at 12 as his defence is usually around 72ish% which is acceptable for 10 but a bit on the week side for a 12. Sexton could make up for it at 10 as he is actually a really good defender. In the 6 nations he made 23 out of 23 tackles for 100% success rate. Jonathon Joseph would fit well at 13 to sure up the defence as well. You would think that Murray will play 9 with the combination of Sexton and Murray having a good kicking game as well. Probably go for North on one wing, but you probably have a better idea of the current form of the wingers. Halfpenny I would probably go for at 15.

                This would give you a killer kicking game with the threat of North on the wing to raise concern out wide for the ABs. Should be pretty solid in defence too.

                I had not picked up on Andy Farrell taking care of defence. The job done in Chicago was executed perfectly in defence, but beware that it was the absence of Whitelock and Retallick and putting Kaino in lock where the ABs really got exposed in line outs and in the breakdown. Ireland also exposed BB’s kicking game when he is left with no other option, and the Lions should really attempt to expose this if they are able to.

                The ABs attack is probably more innovative and slick between backs and forwards than ever before, and I believe if the ABs can get pretty much parity up front that the Lions will really struggle to contain it.

                Personally I can only see the Lions winning by dominating the forward play, push the ABs on the back foot, use some killer kicking to cause the ABs poor exits, then attack from a set piece line out from there.

                The reason I see a 3-0 series to the ABs is that I don’t think the Lions can execute the game plan enough to counter what we bring. The reason for lack of execution is the difference between a team that has been playing years together and a team that is mashed together in a few weeks. The cohesion is hard to combat of playing that know each other inside out. Maybe they can get some of that cohesion through club and country cpmbos? I am doubtful, and so is every betting outlet.

              • Roar Guru

                May 17th 2017 @ 8:30pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 17th 2017 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

                Hello Pinetree
                Excellent points from you again. Really enjoying sucking up you knowledge and ideas.
                It is a but tricky with Gats and his statement about Farrell as 12. I think – and from what I have snapped up from comments from the “rugby guru’s” up north many agree on this – that AB’s upper hand in the backs is rather big. Even if Lions pack click like a dream and monster them, AB’s will score tries. There is no way around that. 30 points is usually the magic number you need to defeat AB’s. So the Lions will need to have all their creative spark on the park if possible. Farrell and Sexton is the the best Lions got.
                The big downside I see with this is that if either Sexton or Farrell gets injured, they have no natural replacements, so that would force a change of tactics.
                Maybe Gats fancy Warrenball from the go, but I doubt it. Warrenball will be the plan B tactics anyway.

                I think it is often forgotten that Andy Farrell actually did a great job with the Irish defense in Dublin also. Took some serious BB magic to take AB’s home in that game. I think we can agree on that Farrell appears to at least have an idea how stop the AB’. He comes through as a student of the game to me.

                AB’s have more weapons, more options, more skills. I agree on that. If Lions would try to match that face up, that would be doomed. I think the closer we get to the series it will be pretty obvious how they will try to defeat AB’s. There are no secrets really. They have to win up front. And they have to win well up front. If it is 50/50 battle up front, AB’s will win I say. Lions have to dominate in order to get enough possession to score and starve AB’s of possession. The Big Squeeze.

                You think Gatland will be praying for rain?

                I have stated a few reasons already why I think Lions can win it, but there is one hardly no ones talk about at the Roar; AB’s injury list is not good at all. Even if all the regular starters is back in time, they will have almost zero rugby in the tank as prep. Some players can step up even with no prep, but lets be honest about that, those players a very special and very few. Ring rust can be an issue.
                Right now it is totally impossible to predict AB’s match day 23. So many things hangs up in the air. And too many battles against the clock is not good for team prep.
                Lions will have a harder task to come together and gel, but we will see what AB’s XV looks like when it is Test time. Could be some new combos in AB’s also.
                Saddest thing at the moment was the quotes from DC in NZ Herland today. There were no guarantees at all in the article that he will be back in time. Sounded like he just maybe might sort of be ready for the first Test. Maybe.

              • May 18th 2017 @ 4:06am
                Carlos the Argie said | May 18th 2017 @ 4:06am | ! Report

                You also must remember that in Chicago, a narrower field, the ABs put Naholo as wing instead of Dagg who would have been a much better choice under the circumstances. Knowing that the opposing team will “kick-a-lot”, you will choose carefully your back three.

                The second row choices plus Naholo made the big difference.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 4:26am
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 4:26am | ! Report

                There were many poor calls in selection by Hasen in Chicago Carlos. A Smith right after toiletgate was another poor call for example. And I called it before the game. No one else on The Roar did that. And I got some serious abuse before the game for making these calls.
                What I am trying to explain now here with T-man and others is, that I got the same “treatment” before Chicago from a bunch of Kiwi’s as I get this time. One simply can’t predict AB losses among certain Kiwi’s. If one do, one knows nothing about rugby. That is what they tell me.

          • May 16th 2017 @ 1:54pm
            jemainok said | May 16th 2017 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

            Nuetral your right it will start 0-0. It is just highly likely it will be 3-0 to the AB’s when the dust clears, how I come to that opinion is based on a few things which I won’t go into the detail, History, Great Team vs put together potential, Home town Advantage, Coach and selection(Most important too Lions chances imo get that right have a chance, get it wrong and it could get ugly).Do the Lions actually have the cattle to win? And their playing the AB’s. So I understand your opinion but when I say I think it will be 3-0 it isn’t because of arrogant’s but because I know rugby and understand both teams and what they face.

            • Roar Guru

              May 16th 2017 @ 2:19pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

              Hi jemainok
              I wish that you would go into more detail. I am so tired of reading lazy journalism that is built around cliches and stats. I am more like Gordon Gekko in Wall Street: “Tell me something I don’t know”. I wanna hear from the Kiwi’s that have done their homework of the Lions players and the potential combination and selections that are available. Someone who breaks down both sides and their preparations. Tell me about the details that really matters and why. Speculate in scenarios and show real rugby intellect.

              Since AB’s wins so frequently I understand that there is a big group of Kiwi armchair experts that think they know it all, because the AB’s win 9 times out 10 lately. You don’t really need scout the opposition, you know that AB’s will most likely win anyway and you think you are the smartest guy in town because you base your rugby knowledge on the AB win ratio. But what separates the amateurs from the pros, is those AB supporters than can predict the losses and the get out of jail arm wrestles. The ones who truly knows the team and what they are up against.

              Me knowingly, I was the only the at The Roar that stated loud and clear that I thought Ireland would beat AB’s in Chicago. And I was spot on about Paris and Dublin would be really tight matches, but the AB’s would grind it out. So even if I am no Kiwi, I follow the AB’s as close at it is possible from a distance. And I back myself and my predictions.

              But most of all I just want to know more. This series is so intriguing. And a sad part for all of you that don’t rank the Lions or give them any chance, is that you miss the hype about this could be the best series ever. Never ever before have so many of the world best 50 players been spread out on two match day 23’s. This could be an absolute epic of a series me think. And even if I right now predict a Lions 2-1 win, it is really not important. The big thing is the rugby. The chance that we might see this beautiful sport be performed at a level we never seen before. That is what makes me hard 😉

              • May 16th 2017 @ 3:21pm
                jemainok said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

                Hi Neutral, Fair enough but I’m a rugby fan and not a journalist and I am in the middle of a work day but for you I will break it down. History- Mana of the Black Jersey the results speaks for it self in Maori culture Mana and history are very important, subsequently the AB’s seem to understand their Mana and history that is intertwined when they put on the black jumper, Do the Lions have that? I don’t know. The AB’s are a great team in my mind that is undoubted, the Lions I see as put together potential so when people talk of this Lions team as the GOAT they are saying imo they have potential to be the greatest but that can only be judged on results, and there are a lot of things the Lion’s have to do to become a good team that the AB’s don’t which is what makes it hard for them But the Lions chances will all end and start with WG selections. Hometown Advantage is a big thing in sports but very few other teams have the Mana and history that can match the AB’s home record, Psychological damage is a big one No matter what WG says this is a hard one to get over especially if behind with 20 to go so they will have to create scoreboard pressure to help their chances. Do the Lions have the cattle to win, Yes and No I think they have great potential but so do the NZ Warriors(you might not understand that analogy but it makes sense in a tongue and cheek way.) They are playing the AB’s means they will get punished for any little mistake. And they need to punish the AB’s when they make any mistakes is it possible sure but that means they will need to be a cohesive outfit by then will they be? Maybe, Maybe not but there is definitely potential. So will it be 3-0 in my mind that is a lot more logical than the Lions winning 2-1, is the lions winning 2-1 impossible? No. But like Ireland in Chicago if you get your preparations and selections right you will put yourself in the discussion but everything has to be perfect because if the Lions get any little thing wrong it will be exploited as history has shown that eludes to the AB’s as well. So that is why I think it will be 3-0 I hope the lions live up to the hype if they do they will write themselves into the record books if they don’t they will just be another overhyped team, Time will tell and to be honest I hope the Lions live up to their potential I’m just not gonna hold my breath on that one.

              • Roar Guru

                May 16th 2017 @ 4:59pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

                Hi again.
                Thanks for a great answer. Sorry if I come through to strong, maybe just too eager to want to know more.
                Sorry for the use of word ”journalism”. Poor choice. My bad. I meant commentators overall.

                A serious answer deserves a serious reply.

                I am an admirer of Maori culture. I hail NZ for embracing their natives’ culture so central in the national identity. This way New Zealand have built unique bridges between the immigrants and the natives. So I hope you understand where I am coming from.

                I love what Buck did in the 80:s. without him would all the talk about Mana in the jersey be horseradish almost. And one can argue that AB’s have performed better since Buck established the Mana connection. The win ratio certainly is a telling point.

                This spiritual connection is something that is central in the AB’s team environment. They feed on it and it gives them a little edge. And the marketing department at NZRU loves it also, so it is a huge win win.

                I love watching the Haka and I say it was one of key reason why I got intrigued in rugby in the late 90:s. Back then when YouTube hardly existed, to see a Haka was something to behold, even on the TV. On a good day it is still special. The only thing I would like to see more of are teams that creates good responds. I have yet to meet a Kiwi who does not love it when the French have walked in arrows or been up the AB’s face with the Tricolour (Cardiff). The Irish 8 was a great thing also. I don’t agree with ignoring it, that just taking a piss, but responses with a “meaning” (in lack of a better word) bring something interesting to the table.
                I have a sneaky feeling that the Lions actually will respond to it if they come with something everyone can stand behind and buy into with conviction. Just standing watching it is not really challenge accepted.

                That is something unique for AB’s and your pacific neighbours and brothers. But the Lions jersey has some serious history also. All the players know this is the big one. They win this, and they are all time NH greats, and forever-respected down south. This is the ultimate. And around that I think the team can bond pretty quickly. Even the fringe players.

                Sorry for my frankness, but to say anything but that AB’s are a great team would be foolish. Anyone who claimed that I would not take serious one bit. Only a troll would say that.

                And yes, Lions is put together team, but they got some descent parts to put it together with. I cannot know for sure, but Gatland would be a fool if he not utilise the two strongest blocks of players in the squad, the Irish and the Saracens boys. The Irish have a nice core of players that all can perform against AB’s. Front and back row and halves. Solid and proven combinations against AB’s. Locks from Saracens and plus three impact players from Saracens. And behind them lost of players that are good enough to slot in. It will be relentless pressure on AB’s for the 80 minutes. Something AB’s are not that used to anymore.
                And Farrell at twelve of course. Imagine what kind of damage a Sexton Farrell combo can do if they get good protection. AB’s will have to be at there epic best to handle that I say.

                Liam Williams, Elliot Daily, George North, Hogg, Henshaw, Davies and a couple of more interesting names provides Gats with something that could possibly gel pretty fast. If Gats plays his hand right, AB’s will meet Ireland again, but this time around Ireland will be beefed up with talent and match everything AB’s got on the bench.

                Refs from France in Test 1 and 3. That you shall not forfet.

                Preparations are key of course for both teams. And there has been a lot of noise about the Lions schedule, without anyone really breaking it down and see what is on offer and how to tackle it with a 41-man squad. Here is probably where one of Gats strengths is due to 2009 and 2013. I think he knows exactly what he needs to do have his Test side ready and fresh. The warm ups will be tough, but what better way to prepare to face the AB’s? All 41 players will know what it takes to play Kiwi’s in NZ. The ones considered for Test selection will not be exposed too much before the Test games (they will play the Maori’s and possibly one more game). I say the warm up games is more to see who outside the top 15 is ready to step up and be in the Test team. That is why the schedule is so good. Any fringe Lions who are in form will be found and not forgotten, due to being tested against quality opposition.

                This talk about they are going to be banged up by NZ SR sides, good luck with that one. This Lions team is no Gospel Choir and the AB’s that are facing the Lions before the Test should be just as worried, if there is any need to be worried for any team. Injuries will happen, but nothing out of ordinary. And the same will apply for AB’s in contention also. Samoa is not known as a soft team ey? 😉

                And really hope we don’t see any BOD type of spears from any side. That tackle ruined the whole series 2005 for me. Taking out the captain – and the opponent’s best player by a distance – in the first minute of series is just too much foul play. Accident or not accident, both Kevin and Tama should have been red carded and banned from the rest of the series. 13 against 15 in 80 minutes, even a useless Lions team would have won that Test. And maybe that would have changed the dynamics of the series.

                One thing I have thought about is why did not the Lions players retaliate after that? In whatever team sport you look at around the world, if the opponents take out your star captain in the first minute of a series that means it is fair game on anyone in the other team, especially if the ref have not dealt with the situation.
                How would the AB’s react if BB was speared in the first minute and broke his arm, and all AB’s got was a penalty?

                Hometown advantage is an advantage, but I really don’t put it into the equation since Lions never plays at home. It is part of the deal from the start. And most games will be more like derbies with almost 50/50 crowds. And what will happen with that hometown advantage if Lions comes out stronger? Will the Kiwi’s turn on AB’s as they always they when they not win at the big stage, or will they back the team all the way?
                This one could will go down the wire.

              • May 16th 2017 @ 3:21pm
                jemainok said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

                Hi Neutral, Fair enough but I’m a rugby fan and not a journalist and I am in the middle of a work day but for you I will break it down. History- Mana of the Black Jersey the results speaks for it self in Maori culture Mana and history are very important, subsequently the AB’s seem to understand their Mana and history that is intertwined when they put on the black jumper, Do the Lions have that? I don’t know. The AB’s are a great team in my mind that is undoubted, the Lions I see as put together potential so when people talk of this Lions team as the GOAT they are saying imo they have potential to be the greatest but that can only be judged on results, and there are a lot of things the Lion’s have to do to become a good team that the AB’s don’t which is what makes it hard for them But the Lions chances will all end and start with WG selections. Hometown Advantage is a big thing in sports but very few other teams have the Mana and history that can match the AB’s home record, Psychological damage is a big one No matter what WG says this is a hard one to get over especially if behind with 20 to go so they will have to create scoreboard pressure to help their chances. Do the Lions have the cattle to win, Yes and No I think they have great potential but so do the NZ Warriors(you might not understand that analogy but it makes sense in a tongue and cheek way.) They are playing the AB’s means they will get punished for any little mistake. And they need to punish the AB’s when they make any mistakes is it possible sure but that means they will need to be a cohesive outfit by then will they be? Maybe, Maybe not but there is definitely potential. So will it be 3-0 in my mind that is a lot more logical than the Lions winning 2-1, is the lions winning 2-1 impossible? No. But like Ireland in Chicago if you get your preparations and selections right you will put yourself in the discussion but everything has to be perfect because if the Lions get any little thing wrong it will be exploited as history has shown that eludes to the AB’s as well. So that is why I think it will be 3-0 I hope the lions live up to the hype if they do they will write themselves into the record books if they don’t they will just be another overhyped team, Time will tell and to be honest I hope the Lions live up to their potential I’m just not gonna hold my breath on that one.

              • Roar Guru

                May 16th 2017 @ 6:27pm
                The Saint said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

                Neutral you may watch a lot of rugby games involving kiwi teams, but you are far from totally understanding the Kiwi rugby psyche.
                From a players point of view, it means a hell of a lot to the selected Lions.. but in saying that.. it means so much more to the ABs players because this series (for them) comes around every 12 years so its a once in a lifetime opportunity.
                For the Lions, they tour every four years so theres more opportunity.
                This will be Gatland’s third tour with the Lions, second as head coach.
                This is Hansen’s only chance as head coach to win a Lions series. Its the missing piece from his illustrious career portfolio. Gatland may yet get another go in SA in four years time.
                Do you get my drift?
                The ABs will throw the kitchen sink at the tourists as it doesn’t come around that often.
                Hell, even the non-ABs playing the Super Sides will be eyeing this as their career highlight.
                Another matter, assistant coach Foster is seen to in the box seat to be next ABs coach. He, too, will be desperate to win.
                Gatland and his Lions will also be desperate to win but the stakes are higher for the ABs coaches and players and Super players.
                I know you will be thinking Neutral that the Lions will see this opportunity as once in a lifetime too…but they will be playing NZ clubs at a pace they never encountered in the European club scene.
                That is only the start Neutral. Just scratching the surface.
                Then comes game plans and tactics – something that Gatland is only known for Warrenball and easy for Hansen and Co to work out in advance how to counter.
                Player skills comes next: for example — show me a Lions player who can match Beaden Barrett’s skills. Is there any Lions lock that is close to being the complete secondrower as Brodie Rettalick?
                Does Billy Vunipola have the skills of Kieran Read or Ardie Savea?
                One of the reaons why the ABs lost in Chicago was that Aaron Smith wasn’t playing well. He has now put his infamous off-field antics behind him and is now back to his best.
                They are only some of the players but I could mention more.
                My fearless prediction: 3-0 to the ABs.
                Furthermore, the Lions may possibly return home with as few as 2 wins from the entire tour – their best chances are against the Provincial Barbarians (a composite team who haven’t played togethet before) and the Highlanders (the NZ Super team that will be hurt the most without their ABs players as their depth will be stretched).
                The Crusaders and Blues will have all their ABs available and there is enough depth in the Chiefs and Hurricanes to trouble – and beat – the Lions.
                Just a reminder Neutral: to date, this Lions team has yet to play together as a team.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 1:29am
                taylorman said | May 18th 2017 @ 1:29am | ! Report

                So now the BOD tackle was the reason for a lopsided series? Had both Umaga and Mealamu been red carded it might have what? Changed the result from three absolute canines to a close series perhaps? Gee… that’s a new one. Nothing would have won the Lions a test in that series 13 or otherwise, they were useless.

              • May 18th 2017 @ 1:08pm
                Shanghai Aucklander said | May 18th 2017 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

                you claim you are a proud maori taylorman.
                you claim you are a rugger man.

                i am no maori, but part of my family are from the islands and i played so much rugby that my back to this day hurts bad, my knees are a joke and i probably had one concussion too many.
                but it was worth it.

                if anyone had taken out the captain in my team in the first minute of a series with a spear, that player would need police protection for a long time. and if that player is subbed i would target the others team captain instead with the intention to hurt him bad.

                and if a ref miss out on two red cards, i would blame the ref badly. i am man enough to admit that.

                still think abs would have won 2-1 in 2005 because that lions team look disjointed from the start, but let us not be hypocrites and claim that taking out odriscoll had no big impact. imagine if it was richie instead? i would be furious to this day.
                am i really the only kiwi who can admit that in public?

            • May 18th 2017 @ 2:36pm
              Quin said | May 18th 2017 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

              Shanghai no one believes you are a kiwi or half of what you have written. Another non de plume for one of the more vocal posters on this thread it seems.

        • May 19th 2017 @ 9:07pm
          Goatee said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

    • May 16th 2017 @ 3:51am
      Darwin Stubbie said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:51am | ! Report

      All well and good if this was just a modern tour – 3 tests and a plane home – then this may have been interesting although in saying that Gatland isn’t the bloke that would have made it interesting if that was the schedule … but the tour will flatten them in intensity – they can’t afford to cruse through the tour matches as they need to build cohesion and confidence – every game will be a test in itself …

      • Roar Guru

        May 16th 2017 @ 4:13am
        taylorman said | May 16th 2017 @ 4:13am | ! Report

        Yes agree, I’m sure some are just saying these things. I wouldn’t wish this tour on the All Blacks let alone the Lions, and you can see it in the Super sides that not only is the ABs home run the best ever the Super sides are easily the best NZ has ever had in terms of results against overseas sides, regardless of the reasons, and I think the Lions tour is a major reason for that…they all want a piece of them!

      • Roar Rookie

        May 16th 2017 @ 5:10am
        Guvna said | May 16th 2017 @ 5:10am | ! Report

        Playing our super rugby sides could be the making of this tour, the last thing you’d want would be your team rolling into the first test and then going “what the hell was that???”‘ Playing the blues etc, will give them a stepping stone into the way we play the game here before they get to the Big Dance.

        They’ll hit that first test with a clear idea of what to expect, and what they need to do. Far better than what video analysis etc would be able to give them. Of course the “what doesn’t kill you” theory only goes so far…

      • Roar Guru

        May 16th 2017 @ 11:08am
        The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        You think Gatland is lying when he says all that matters is the Tests? No one remembers the warm up games afterwards. They are warm up games, not Test matches as some believe here. Even if Lions cleans sweeps the warm up games, would it in no way compensate for a series loss.
        Lions will probably win most of the warm up games anyway. NZ SR rugby cruise against Aussie teams, but now they will face a very different quality of opposition (how many Wallabies would make the Lions 41 man squad? Very very few I say).
        The whole thing with the schedule is blown out proportion. This schedule has been known for years and plans how to deal with have been worked on for just as long.

        • May 16th 2017 @ 2:08pm
          jemainok said | May 16th 2017 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

          Neutral you know your opinion is not fact right?

        • Roar Guru

          May 16th 2017 @ 2:21pm
          Fionn said | May 16th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

          I think Genia, Kerevi, Kuridrani, Haylett-Petty, Speight, Pocock, Hooper, Latu, TPN, probably Ala’alatoa.

          Given the number of Welshmen on the tour who don’t deserve to be there there could legitimately be a decent number.

          Edit: maybe MaMahon too.

          That said, I do agree that the NZ teams are going to face a different caliber agains the Lions. Whether the Lions’ midweek teams would beat the full-strength Canes, Chiefs or, especially, Crusaders, under the guidance of Gatland remains to be seen though.

          • Roar Guru

            May 16th 2017 @ 2:36pm
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

            I have not made up my mind about the amount of Welsh players in the Lions squad. I can see two sides.

            1. I am not a fan of Welsh rugby and I am not impressed overall by them during Gatland’s regin – and not before that either. So many of those Welsh players selected have proven over and over again that they are no winners, especially against SH teams. I would not say it is 100 percent impossible for them to beat the AB’s again, but that has to be a very very special day in the valleys, with the stars aligned in an unique combination… What have these Wales players done during the last twelve months to earn selection? Especially with so many English and Scottish players showing progress.

            2. With a squad of 41 players, there will be a big chunk that don’t get to see any Test minutes or very few. That they stay positive and ready if called upon is key. If these fringe guys brings the right attitude to the team, that usually means a Test team in rude health. Maybe Gatland plan is to build this fringe core around the Welsh players. They can’t fail him and not give him his all, because that would mean bye bye Wales test jersey. And some of the Welsh boys will do just fine in Test 23 also.

            • Roar Guru

              May 16th 2017 @ 2:53pm
              Fionn said | May 16th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

              If I was Scottish I would be livid – reconsidering my vote to remain in a union with Wales at that point :P.

              The three that really stand out for me are Halfpenny, North and AWJ. Gatland said he was going to select on 6N form, but he clearly didn’t when you consider the players he didn’t bring to bring those three above.

              • Roar Guru

                May 16th 2017 @ 3:04pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

                AWJ did not perform in the 6N to merit section. Others were better. But I am not really upset about him being selected, every coach is allowed to pick a few favorites. No biggie. I thought Sam Warburton was good in 6N, and as a tour captain he will be great – and set a good example to the group that even the captain can be dropped and still give it all to the team? – so he is no biggie either. But Halfpenny?!? What on earth is his he doing on the plane? No where near the the player we saw 2013 and even his kicking is shaky these days. His percentage is dropping.

        • May 16th 2017 @ 4:53pm
          Darwin Stubbie said | May 16th 2017 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

          I didn’t say the warm up games are test matches I said they’ll be tests in themselves – meaning they’ll be brutal – the lions are going to be battered by the time they roll up to the first test – yip the schedule was known and agreed – but many experienced and knowledgable pundits, coaches and players from both NH and SH have said the same thing …

          Fully aware no one will give a stuff if they come away with a series win – but if they drop games leading in and pick up injuries then the wheels could come rather quickly … how do I know this – I’ve seen it many times before – factions happen pretty quickly in lions teams and cracks start to appear when the things take a downturn … that’s not speculation or guessing – or basing things on European club games or 6N results ..and sure NZ will incur injuries but it’s far easier to replace players when at home than from the other side of the world

          • Roar Guru

            May 16th 2017 @ 5:08pm
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

            I ask you this DS. Have you seen anyone really break down the warm up matches, how Gast potentially can dispose his squad and also remember that Gats will unlikely let his core of starting Test players – the once that are pencilled in already – play much during the warm up matches.
            I guess not.
            But just as you I have seen a lot people just open their mouth and say it is to tough without any further analysis. I can’t take that serious really.
            Take your time a pretend you are Gats for while and simulate the warm up games. See what kind of possibilities there is. And then please come back answer this comment.

            • May 16th 2017 @ 5:35pm
              Darwin Stubbie said | May 16th 2017 @ 5:35pm | ! Report

              I don’t know Gatland’s thinking anymore than you do … but I do know that kind of tactic was attempted by Woodward in 2005 and crashed and burned …

              he’s going to have to play his test players and combinations and shadow test side during those warm ups – he can’t cotton wool the players otherwise they’ll go in cold – the only other option is to pick a test side based on 1 national team – both of those scenarios will definitely undermine the squad .. touring NZ isn’t easy – by that I mean proper tours and that is something history can point to – there will be injuries and it will be tougher than anything these guys have faced

              • May 16th 2017 @ 5:41pm
                Fionn said | May 16th 2017 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

                That’s all pretty fair to say, DS.

                But you don’t have to push your big name guys as hard as you do in the Tests. Look at how Gatland largely rested his top guys, only playing some of them.

                I think he’ll play his top guys in perhaps the first 2 matches against the NZ provincial sides.

              • May 16th 2017 @ 6:07pm
                Jemainok said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

                Big risk Fionn. If he doesn’t play his best side for the majority of games how will he bring his side together? It will be interesting to see how WG thinks he can plot victory.

              • May 16th 2017 @ 6:08pm
                Darwin Stubbie said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

                When are you talking about ? In Aust ? … that tour was a different beast and the wallabies were also a bit of a mess and yet they should have got over in the line in the first test … so resting really wasn’t a great lead in – if that is what you a referring to

                they’re still going to need game time – particularly if they’re looking a combinations unless what you’re also suggesting is that he’s got his test side already set and he just cottonwoods them which he may well do but previous tours suggest that kind of approach can split lions tours pretty quickly … look how the wheels fell off in 2001 … there a reasons why these tours are hard to manage and get series wins – can they do it ? I personally don’t think so – the deck just seems too stacked against it

              • May 16th 2017 @ 6:15pm
                Fionn said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

                Sorry, DS, I meant to say ‘Look at how Gatland largely rested his top guys against the Brumbies…’

                What happened in 01, I thought it was in 05 that things got really factional? (not super aware about 05 either…).

                In the mid-week Tests I would be playing Owen Farrell and Sexton and Itoje and co for a max of 40 mins.

              • Roar Guru

                May 16th 2017 @ 7:28pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

                The players will probably loosely be placed in three different groups.

                1. Certain Test starters. About ten players. Will participate in two warm up matches and spend most of time fine tuning form and skills on the training paddock. Two games in three weeks will be more than enough for them to stay match tempo fit.

                2. Most likely in the match day 23. About 15 players. Will play three warm up matches. Perfect preparation to see who should start and who should come fromt the bench. Three matches in three weeks, will sort out the internal rankings.

                3. The reserves. About 15 players. Will play four warm up matches. Will be tested hard, but if anyone in this group is in form and worthy of a Test spot, it will be noticed. It is a brutal trial out, but it will be very rewarding.

              • May 17th 2017 @ 10:59am
                Jacko said | May 17th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

                I should call myself Gorgeous blond if you can call yourself NEUTRAL. I aint no gorgeous blond and you aint Neutral. Your constant anti ABs posts almost makes it look like you are a pommie reporter its that bad…You constantly ask everyone who disagrees with you to go and analyse each warm-up game etc yet you fail misserably in any assessment yourself…You say the ABs arnt playing history and history is nothing to do with results in the future….Well NZ rugby is ALL about history…History of what the jumper means to NZers…History of the desire to defend their home ground, and history will tell you that it is commonly repeated. You believe that the super sides wont be tests…well you are in for a shock, as all super players and those called in to replace ABs will have a strong desire to be winners in each game…You also say that injuries could still derail the ABs…We say teams never play any individual….They play the ALL BLACKS…Who-ever is selected is expected to do the job…or die trying. It would appear that altho you believe you know much about rugby , you clearly know very little about what the ABs are, and what they mean to NZ and what NZ means to them….Keep up your neutral views but try making them neutral eh. Or maybe re-name yourself to “Biased Anti ABS person with a view”

              • Roar Guru

                May 17th 2017 @ 12:01pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 17th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

                Your constant anti ABs posts almost makes it look like you are a pommie reporter its that bad…

                Anyone who read what I written here at The Roar today or the last six months knows that have zero biases against AB’s.
                You Jacko, and a fair few others on this thread just shows how ignorant you are since you are not reading what I am actually written, and your reply’s are filled with lies.

                AB’s is ALL about history? How wrong is it possible to be? Not much I say.
                AB’s is all about the next game and next performance, that is the essence of their ethics and anyone who thinks just because they were good last time around, will soon find themselves outside the squad.
                As an keen admirer of AB’s I am very happy for that. If the “historians” was in charge of AB’s, they would very quickly become an average Tier 1 team and the sport of rugby would be poorer for that.

                Be proud of your history Kiwi’s. Be very proud. And hail all the the old heroes as you always have. All that is all good. But stop this pipe dream about history is “everything”.

                And finally:

                Or maybe re-name yourself to “Biased Anti ABS person with a view”

                LOL! You are actually a little bit funny.

            • Roar Guru

              May 18th 2017 @ 1:46am
              taylorman said | May 18th 2017 @ 1:46am | ! Report

              We have done the analysis but you are not listening to it. It’s simple. Gatland needs to select sides where he can determine his best 23. He has two primary ways of doing that. Take a risk and have a stab at his starting 23 and play the sides he thinks that will give him the best view of that side.

              If it were me I would play the Baabaas, Crusaders and NZ Maori, which is why I think the Blues with all their ABs will beat the second side if he goes for a Saturday vs Mid week selection approach.

              This is a controversial selection method, can quickly divide a squad as it did in 2005 and it’s based heavily on him getting his starting side mostly right. If he does that and selects well, I think it’s their best chance.But it will still likely divide the squad and fans, this squad already doing that…typical of past Lions squads, but hey, what’s history got to do with it ay?

              The other way is to give everyone a chance and play two balanced squads across the tour. This gives everyone a chance to impress but ‘diluting’ the side through never playing the strongest side could backfire in that not only do they lose more matches, Gatland doesn’t get to know who his best side is. It’s a method Hansen would deploy but only because he has full confidence in his wider squad, to both win, and perform. I don’t think Gatland has anywhere near that same confidence, and is not known for changing much.

              So as predictable as Gatland is, I think he’ll pump for his best side against the Saders and Maori, the Baabaas could be a strange mix as players arrive late from club matches in the NH, adding strength to a likely Blues win.

              Regardless, and now the ABs have a warmup against Samoa to rid the cobwebs, thecLions still won’t know what hit them in the tests. If you think Gatland is making the tests his priority then you can guarantee the ABs will be also, doubly so.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 3:12pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

                I have not listen T-man?
                Well, funny that there are so many replies from me in this thread were I compliment the other posters knowledge, give props for their insight and thanks them. And if you look real close, you will see that I even admit when I am wrong and I have no problem to apologize either.
                Even more funny is how much praise I have given AB’s in thread, still so many Kiwi’s can only see that “2-1-prediction” and use that as an excuse to jump on me and accuse me being Anti-AB’s. I have to state here right away, that this does not apply to all Kiwi’s who has replied on this thread, Some have shown they are real gentlemen, proper rugger men, with some distance to both themselves and AB’s. I have total respect for them. And you know wha T-mant, non of them has agreed with my 2-1 prediction, still they have no problem to see that I have no biases.

                Interesting that you look to use the warmups in a very similar way as I suggested.
                But let me give you some more info so you – and everyone else – can make better predictions. Most likely will almost all of the given starters play club rugby until May 27. The finals in both Aviva and Pro12 is to be played (Wasps-Saracens and Leinster-Munster look like the usual suspects).The players from these teams will jump on the plane May 29. I don’t think we will see them against the Barbarians. After that we will probably see them spread out over the games against the Blues and the Saders, but focus will be for these players to rest and fine tune skills on the training paddock.
                Both the Blues and Saders will be huge challenges, but also huge opportunities. What a luxury to play two SR sides with their AB’s on the field, it is impossible to get better preparation than that ahead of an AB’ series.
                But, hang on a minute. How many AB’s will we actually see? There are several people from both AB’s management and player squad that have said “we will see” if any AB’s actually will play. And considering the current injury situation I would not be surprised at all if Hansen raps his AB’s in cotton. Just as Gats, Hansen don’t give a toss about the warmup games. This is the Test business and everything else is irrelevant long term.
                Even without AB’s Blues is a fine team and Saders is a really good team. But no way I would back them to pummel the Lions, especially when the Lons will start to field their top guns. We will see great contests I am sure.

                I would be … not so smart if I believed that no one among the 41 Lions will go sour because less playing time than expected. But I think this is blown out proportion. Sir Clive did this mistake 2005 and it has not been repeated since then (and that is under Gats watch, so to think that he will lose this plot all the sudden is far fetched).
                And with games every third day, there is no way anyone expects – or can – play all the time.

                Against the Maori Gats will play his Test side, that is the dress rehearsal for sure. But apart from that, don’t expect to see the Lions Test team on field at the same during the warmups.

                Out of the seven warmup games, three of them can be degraded to “tier 2”. The first game against the Baa Baas, just getting of the plane and only players that been in Lions camp in May will play against the weakest opposition on tour. The game against the Chiefs is three days ahead of the first Test, a no-brainer that no Test player will be in that one. And the game against the Canes is between Test 1 and 2, so obviously no Test players will be in contention there either.
                But all these games presents great opportunities for the reserves to put down a marker that they should be in the Test squad and prepare them if they have to step up due to injuries.

                This belief that the AB’s will be more motivated gotta be your most unreal argument T-man. Both teams look at this at the ultimate once in a life time opportunity. Both set of players will be ready to run through brick walls.
                This is the biggest show down in rugby. Everyone in the rugby world is pumped for this series. But somehow the Lions – according to you – are gonna come to the table with no plan, no belief, no grit, no talent, no nothing. You make it sound like they are gonna go south, pull down their pants and bend over and take it deep where the sun don’t shine.

                I wonder why so many rugby fans are so pumped for this series since it is no contest even before the Tests has started?

              • May 18th 2017 @ 5:07pm
                Pinetree said | May 18th 2017 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

                I have to say I have not entered this discussion again because I think personal emotion has got in the way of a good conversation. Lots have made good points, and as humans we will always have bias opinions.

                I feel Neutral has had the Lions share of personal attacks because when you are massively out numbered in opinion it can feel like a bit of a gang up. I would of avoided using “AB fan boy” though Neutral, your one mistake. Neutral seems pretty knowledgeable to me, and I know Tman and others have solid knowledge of the game as well. Calling Neutral delusional though is a disgrace when we all know the Lions will be strong. The question is will the Lions be strong enough. Neutral says yes and I say no and when the series is done we will either win some or learn some.

                Personally I like it when others have a different opinion if they can talk some rugby to back up what they say, and for me at least Neutral has done this to my satisfaction. All we can do now is talk about the selections when they come out and we have a better fell for what we are looking at and see how events pan out. Then we can discuss again on results.

                I am totally cool with everyone in the thread and have enjoyed the opinions, but I do tend to shy away when it gets personal as debate is pushed aside for emotion.

                All I can say is that I can’t wait for the BIL tour and all the best for what ever you may predict.

              • Roar Guru

                May 19th 2017 @ 12:00am
                taylorman said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:00am | ! Report

                All I can say Neutral is you’re full of it, you rabble on far too long that I can’t be bothered reading it all.

                You watch the Saracens for inspiration in the NH game and compare it to the ABs. Amusing is probably an understatement.

                You dismiss the history of the ABs where the truth is the result of this series lies within that.

                Like many hopefuls before you you’ll be saying in short time…but…but… I didn’t…oooh, but… blah blah. Seen it a thousand times. Just sit back and watch and try not to bother evaluating this series.

        • Roar Guru

          May 18th 2017 @ 12:52am
          taylorman said | May 18th 2017 @ 12:52am | ! Report

          Yes except the only matches the Lions seem to win is the warm up games. So how does that fit your model? Or is history again irrelevant?

          Since winning in the 71 series…1977, played 9 warmups, won 8, lost first test, and series.

          1983, played six, won five, lost to Auckland, and first test, whitewashed series.

          1993, played 6, won five, lost first test, series.

          2005, played 6, won 5, lost first test, whitewashed series.

          By your thinking this Lions side is somehow going to buck every single trend in history with a coach who doesn’t know what the word change means.

          And if Gatland doesn’t take the warmups seriously and starts losing them the pressure on the side will be immense and confidence will plummet and the ABs will go for the jugular, again.

          Paul OConnell said he even took to smoking in 2005 he was so stressed.

          You mention Saracens. They’re a side stacked with southern hemisphere players, as are most of the top northern hemisphere clubs.

          Remove those players and they’d be a shell of what they are now.

          You say you predicted the Chicago loss. Few did, but I’m guessing you have no idea of the factors that went into that loss from an AB perspective. And the northern matches are usually tight Affairs these days because it’s end of season for the ABs.

          And as for your prediction of a 2-1 win, that is laughable. Ain’t gonna happen, no way shape or form. Happy to compare our two predictions post series because that is bordering on delusional. No way this AB side will lose a test after being beaten once. It’s that part of AB culture that you just don’t understand. Look at the turnaround in Dublin. Ireland paid heavily, at home, in front of their own, simply because of what they did in Chicago. ABs regathered and thumped them.

          Anyway, you stick to your theories but I’m confident this Lions series is going to experience the AB version of the great fighter Clubber Lang…….’PAIN’…?

          Only one side has won 2-1 in NZ in over a hundred years. And you think this side will be another.

          • Roar Guru

            May 18th 2017 @ 2:38am
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 2:38am | ! Report

            T-man

            Let see if we end this debate on some form understanding note somehow. We will not agree with each other for sure, but I will take step back and stop with my name-calling and other nonsense stuff.
            So here is my honest reply to you, with no malice. Just from one rugby lover to another.

            I am well aware of the history. I know how hard touring NZ is. Please trust me when I say that touring NZ is the hardest thing you can do in rugby.
            The “mission impossible” label is what makes this tour is intriguing. This is the ultimate for NH player. Touring SA and OZ is dandy, but it is the tours to NZ that really counts. Lions almost never wins there, so a series victory is a big as it gets. Legend status in NH and eternal respect in SH. Don’t for second think AB’s players will be more motivated.

            We cant know how Gatland will handle the warmups, we can only speculate. What’s the best way to use them we can probably debate forever. But I hope we can agree on that if Gatland plays his hand right, these warmups matches also presents unique opportunities for him and the Lions.
            All players in the Lions will play a lot of meaningful rugby before the Tests, Especially those who are not certain for the Test team. Lions might a drop a couple of these warmup games but it would mean nothing really. If anything, it seems that Gatland during his two prior tours have really learnt that the Test matches is everything.
            A big loss against the Maori’s in the dress rehearsal would hurt the Lions confidence i think, but the rest of the warmup matches is really not that important.
            A big reason why they are not so important is – as you said yourself – the Lions prep time is minimal. On the long tours in the past, these warm up games was almost as special as the Tests. I get that. But Lions tours have changed too much, the setup is different. The only realistic thing Lions can aim for, is to have a functional side before the Test series together with reserves that are ready if called upon.
            To expect that the results in the warmup games will effect them in any bigger extent is wrong I think. Neither if they if win or lose them. It will be all about performance and preparation for the Tests.

            You should know I follow NH rugby pretty close and you probably know I have been singing Saracens praise all season here at The Roar. Don’t you think I know they have a lot Saffa’s in the team?
            The point is that they have 6 Lions (7 if we include Liam Williams who plays for them next season). 5 of these six are forwards. Players that have won it all together so far since WC 2015. You have to understand that this Saracens unit is pretty special. Scrums, lineouts and so on, these boys have a nice foundation. These boys are just as filled with confidence and belief as the AB’s. These players hardly knows what losing feels like, just like most AB players.
            And Saracens has England’s best academy by far now. There are big chunks of talent Saracens in England’s youth teams, they are filled with boys from Saracens. You should also know that Saracens only started being successful since they started to breed their own players. And they sign fewer and fewer players from SH.

            Yeah, I predicted the loss i Chicago. But funny you right away start to speculate that the reason for that must be that I was thinking wrong anyhow. Maybe you should try and ask why I thought they would lose and what made me predict that. Maybe you would learn something instead? New perspectives can be useful, even when they come from Sweden.
            And a hint: my prediction for AB’s loss in that game had mostly to do with AB’s prep. The thing is afterwards everyone said so (including Steve Hansen), but before the game when I stated this, the same kind of s**t storm hit me on forums here at the Roar as ot done this week.“The AB’s could never get distracted by any parade’s, they are much to professional, and 100 years of Mana is what keeps AB’s on track always and no VIP treat at Bulls games will change that, and Hansen’s knows exactly what he is doing with his selection, I was a complete fool wondering if Hasen are setting up AB’s for a loss against Ireland with his selections. And Kaino is a awesome lock, and AB’s are not reliant on Sam and Brodie, AB’s is a team that don’t stand or fall with a a few a players. AB’s have never lost to Ireland, Ireland are so average, the AB ‘s was tired when they played them 2013, 111 years and bla bla bla”. it was endless.
            And the only Kiwi that sent me a comment after the game was The Roar’s greatest commentator Rugby Tragic (and he certainly did not agree with me ahead of the game, but he took what I said onboard and admitted that he had me – of all persons – in his mind after the game.

            And you say AB’s can’t lose two Tests in a row? They can T-man, they can.
            There is no natural law that say they can’t. They have lost two in a row before. To claim that I don’t understand AB’s because I say they can lose two in a row is just nonsense.
            And hey, I actually don’t predict AB’s to lose two Test in a row this summer. They will lose Test 1 and 3 at Eden Park. French referees in both games. That will be a massive up for the Lions. Saffa-Peyper who refs game 2 will let the AB’s get with away enough for AB’s to win the battle up front. But the French refs won’t. Prepare to camp inside your own 22 with multiple penalties a at least a couple yellow cards.
            The new experience for AB’s is that this time will they face a team with so much muscle and fire power, that the scoreboard will tick non stop.

            • May 18th 2017 @ 4:27am
              Carlos the Argie said | May 18th 2017 @ 4:27am | ! Report

              This is called a “black swan” event. An event of very rare probability of occurrence with a huge impact if it happens.

              There will always be people that pick very rare events. It is the nature of distribution. They may have picked it by chance or, on extremely rare occasions, by some smart process.

              I am sure you knew that the Cubs would win, that they would have a parade, that the starting locks would be out, that Dane Coles and Smith picked exactly this game to have a bad one, that Hansen picked Naholo over Dagg forgetting the narrow field for an instant… That Joe Schmidt would manage to get perfect implementation of his game strategy…

              You absolutely picked the right combination of factors, all of them, to pick the Irish inChicago.

              Extraordinary.

              And now, after never having entered a rugby field to play, referee, coach or even run around, your are teaching the Kiwis, Aussies, Saffas and other nationalities, about your rugby acumen.

              Be careful, we will start calling you the Donald of the Forum.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 4:45am
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 4:45am | ! Report

                Carlos

                I called it on Thursday two days before the Test. You read that article also Carlos. Selections was known. Cubs have already won, AB’s have already been around Chicago on too many sponsored events.
                That Smith would not be ready was a no brainer for me
                Missing Sam and Brodie also me.
                And I knew Joe Schmidt had been close before. Very close.
                I saw a perfect storm coming. I called it. And i am not gonna excuse myself for that.
                If you wanna make fun of that, be my guest if it make you feel better.

                Problem is with the Kiwi fans boys, all they can predict is AB’s by 30. They have zero felling or knowledge about the opponents.
                And when AB’s lose or play poor they have an arsenal of excuses. Funny thing, when other teams fans uses the same excuses for losses against AB’s, when they are poor losers and of course knows nothing about rugby.
                Example 1: AB’s lost QF 2007 due to forward pass. I have yet to see any Kiwi give compliments to French for that game. That forward pass deciding everything. One ref call. Yep. Ask any Kiwi and you be told.
                Example 2: When they beat France in 2011 8-7, after the one of the most home friendly refs performances I have ever seen – he gifted them that final to them- no one in NZ speaks about it and everybody pretends that the ref was fair. Watch that second half from 2011 Carlos and tell me how penalties you have called on the AB’s.

              • May 18th 2017 @ 10:27am
                jemainok said | May 18th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

                Hey Neutral selection in the Chicago was a learning curve many of what was forced upon Hansen, So did he make bad selections, maybe in hindsight? But I think that result was more to do with the preparation for both teams, all that week the AB’s were doing their AIG promotional stuff, and there was also the cubs which the AB’s got swept up in. Which I didn’t see from Ireland, they got their preparation right and won all credit to them. But suggesting you chose Ireland to win is like any other person who chose Ireland to win over the 100+ years it just happens this time was the first time somebody was right. But it wasn’t anything to do with what you said. And to be honest Ireland could have lost that game, but they showed a fortitude they hadn’t shown against the AB’s before, whether it was that one of their greats had passed away and that drove them to something they haven’t achieved before who knows but that one game the mental fratilities they had shown over 100+ years disappeared. as for 2007 a valuable lesson was learnt as well and it wasn’t the forward pass that lost that game it didn’t help but the AB’s had enough ball to win that game but the top 2% wasn’t right why they didn’t set up for a field goal is probably why they lost that in all honesty and a tenacious French side who just weren’t going to lose on that day, If you haven’t heard a kiwi give praise to the French about that day or any other time we have played them you just don’t know many kiwi’s. I actually have some cousins who live in Sweden I can drop you their digits if you want some kiwi friends they are half Swedish but we won’t hold that against them.

              • May 18th 2017 @ 1:35pm
                moaman said | May 18th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                Neutral; “one Ref call” I have to pull you up on that one.Read the report of that game again to refresh your memory.
                Not only did the french play well….they were exceptionally well-disciplined.In fact, so well-disciplined they didn’t trouble the Ref for the entire 2nd half–despite being dominated in both possession and territory.

                Otherwise …..carry on, Good Sir.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 3:42pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

                Hello again J

                What I shall take away from my prediction about Chicago is that did not foresee that kind of performance from the Irish (scoring 40 points is some feat). My prediction was mostly based on what I saw from the AB’s.
                At that moment we actually had a pretty big debate on The Roar about how to beat AB’s with some excellent articles from Geoff Parkes and Harry Jones, many of us were really breaking down the AB’s at the moment, so I got some help from others also. It is really interesting how much of the things written during that period that actually was spot on.
                And I have no idea how the Irish managed to avoid the commotion with the Cubs. I checked their social media accounts also, and they were out on town too taking it all in.
                Of course I was lucky to predict that victory, I am no super guru. But it was not all down to luck from me.

                I have watched almost every single Test with the ABäs since 1999. I follow them as close as it is possible from a distance. I break down and analyze every single game. I am almost obsessed. LOL!
                I have claimed here at The Roar that “if one don’t love the way AB’s plays rugby, one can’t love rugby at all” (and you can imagine how many Aussie’s on The Roar who attacked me for being a Kiwi in disguise).

                I am sorry but very few Kiwi’s – even the ones I am good friends with – ever talk about that game in Cardiff. I can understand that, it must have been super painful. And if any Kiwi write or talk about that game, it is about the ref.
                Props to my good friend Tana Williams from Auckland though, he at least have told me he was in awe on Dusautoir (and his tackle count in that match was of the charts, 30+ at least).
                To be honest, I would have no problem with the crying about the ref in that game, if the same persons acknowledged that the tables were turned in 2011. Whatever the French got 2007, the AB’s got 2011.

                Totally agree with you that the loss 2007 was the catalyst for the golden era AB’s are in now. Ted learned the lessons and created the blue print that the AB’s till are using.

                Love to see your relatives, but I live in SE Asia (Chiang Mai) so it almost close to NZ than home 😉
                A funny thing here in Asia, every time I meat a Kiwi they first think I am Kiwi; “no way a non Kiwi loves rugby that much and know so much about AB’s”
                It has happened so many times. And frankly, I love it.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 3:52pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

                moaman

                “One call only” is me exaggerating, so that is fair thing you say to me and I am sorry. But I think you know where i come from. I watched that game as a neutral and even if the ref missed more than that forward pass, the French were better on the day and deserved the win.
                And why oh why the AB’s not tried to set up a drop goal in the last five minutes is still beyond me.

              • May 18th 2017 @ 5:32pm
                jemainok said | May 18th 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

                Hey Neutral I am happy to talk about Cardiff and Ellis Park just don’t ask me to watch those games again. Firstly I see Cardiff for what it is the catalyst for change especially in the NZRU with the re hiring of Ted and his coaching staff. And if you ever meet a kiwi who was not in awe of what Dusautoir did in the 2007 match they are probably a soccer guy. But yes 2007 loss was actually probably the best thing for the AB’s in hindsight. I can actually tell you exactly were I was and how I was in disbelief that we had lost that game but not for a second would I personally try to discredit what France done that day they where the better team on that day. In relation too 2011 yeah maybe there are major similarities hey before that game I said if we win by 1 point I will be happy, that is a statement I will never make again. But for me France for all there great endeavour didn’t get in the best position to win that game maybe they didn’t get penalties that they should but they also should have had a guy red carded so am I sympathetic to them? Yes do I believe they deserved to win? No but maybe that is just my biased but like Dusautoir of 2007 I think a lot of French people will recognise what McCaw did in that game. So my take on 2007 in hindsight isn’t one of pain but more so an understanding of from the ashes a phoenix does rise. And I’m a bit sad I can’t see the Lions with the optimism of people like yourself but all my life I have seen this is the best… this and that so it sort of loses momentum for me anyway. So I hope this team is as good as you believe because I like to see the AB’s pushed I just don’t know if this a good team I just haven’t seen them play in 4 years.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 6:32pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

                From what I can read you are exactly the kind of Kiwi I would befriend right away in the pub watching rugby and having a little banter. Is is pleasure talking with you j.

                And McCaw. What can I say. Hands down the best player ever. What really blew me away with McCaw is that he almost were among the top three performers in AB’s. For 149 Tests. It is beyond belief and if I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would not believe it.
                And help from the ref or not – in that final 2011 (on one healthy foot) he carried the AB’s. If he had not been on field AB’s would have loss. I am totally convinced.

                And to show some more Kiwi love. Dan Carter is number two after McCaw, but it still annoys me they he don’t get more props for his WC final 2015. He was almost as good as against the Lions 2005. And I am not only talking about his drop goal and penalties. He soaked about some silly late hits from the WB’s i the first half (but Nigel Owens don’t like to give yellow card unless it evens out the game, I have seen this so much in NH rugby I am getting tired of it, he acts like a game leader too much sometimes) and just went on with it. And his defense in the second half was sublime. A lost stat on many rugby fans is that they don’t know who made most tackles (and missed none) in the final: Dan Carter.

                I do believe you that you want AB’s to be challenged to the end. A 3-0 whitewash can be fun, especially for my hecklers here, but I am all with you.
                I want the the battle. My dream scenario is 1-1, minute 75 third Test, scoreboard 28-27… after an epic an brutal series. Those last five minutes, that is the essence of life.

                This is also something I like with all real rugger men I met from NZ. If someone beats the AB’s, they salute them. Good on them. And most importantly, they study that other team in detail and look right away for new ideas and tweaks. In so many word, real students of the game.
                I was not born yet in 1971, so I don’t remember that series. But I have heard enough old rugger men from NZ say that that tour changed the way the AB’s play, a change we can see to this day. Before that tour AB’s played what we would call today pretty forward based NH rugby. But the Welsh flair back then made the NZRU to rethink.
                Students of the game.

              • Roar Guru

                May 19th 2017 @ 12:08am
                taylorman said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:08am | ! Report

                Carlos, we are apparently now being educated in the game by a Swede that’s never even played it. Maybe we could learn something?

              • May 19th 2017 @ 1:05am
                Carlos the Argie said | May 19th 2017 @ 1:05am | ! Report

                Just my two cents about Cardiff 2007. That year I met my current wife. She is a sports fanatic (NCAA basketball and cycling) and I told her we were going to the RWC to watch the ABs, a team that never loses…. It was her intro to international rugby.

                It was an amazing day at the stadium, but we left in total shock. Like all kiwis there (even though I am an Argie). She kept asking me how come the ABs lost.

                How come there were no penalties against the French in one entire half? I have never seen that.
                She kept asking me how come the referee and the touch judge didn’t see the forward pass that was so obvious for us to see from the stands? I have seen this before…

                She asked me how come they selected a 26 year old guy to referee this game, his first international big game, a QF at a RWC…. I have never seen this before.

                And so it went the entire drive back to London. The next day, we took the TGV to Paris to see Argentina-Scotland. I had purchased the Cardiff tickets thinking it would be an Argentina-AB match, except the first game of the RWC changed the plans.

                Stade de France was better. Marcelo Campo, a former Pumas, sat next to me in the stands. We had played together in my early days. Well, he played first team, I played second. But he recognized me!

            • May 18th 2017 @ 7:22am
              richard said | May 18th 2017 @ 7:22am | ! Report

              “Saffa Peyper who refs game 2 will let the AB’s get away with enough etc”

              You mean like he did last year in Dublin where he completely ignored the thuggery of Heaslip and Sexton.Ignored Trimble’s cynical play preventing an almost certain try.He did his utmost to stitch the AB’s up.He is hardly an AB fanboy.

              As to the two Frenchman,my guess is the north made sure they were there because they aren’t neutral.They will favor the BIL’s.(I have memories of the SF of the RWC in that regard).

              As to the upcoming series,I personally expect it to be very close.I am not underestimating the Lions and wouldn’t be surprised if the series went either way.

              But,here’s the thing.Having read a lot of your posts,it is obvious you are hardly ‘neutral.” You clearly have a dislike of the AB’s,despite your protests to the contrary.Which makes you no better than the so-called ‘AB fanboys” you criticise.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 3:59pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

                Well richard, you know there are two sides of every story. The NZ one and the other one.
                The other sides says that it was NZ that got away and was a bit lucky in Dublin. It was an brutal and beautiful Test match, so I don’t think we should go in too much in detail, at least not if we claim that we like the physical part of the game. Pepper’s biggest miss was not give a red card to Fekitoa, I think we all can agree in that.
                And you also have to give some props to the Irish, they handled themselves well.
                That the penalty count stuck out against the AB’s in Dublin is one thing, but their penalty count stuck out in Chicago and in Paris also. Three refs in a row with biases towards the AB’s? The rest of the world will never stop laughing if anyone claims that.

              • May 18th 2017 @ 4:38pm
                richard said | May 18th 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

                No problem with Fekitoa getting a red card.And many kiwis said that at the time.But,frankly,I would have given Sexton and Heaslip reds for their indiscretions.

                Were the AB’s a little over-exuberant – probably.But then the Irish were hardly the angels they tried to portray themselves as.Just saying.

            • May 18th 2017 @ 4:25pm
              jemainok said | May 18th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

              Hey Neutral I like you and what you offer to this site, but here are a few questions for you.
              Do you think the Lions are a better team than the AB’s? Do you think you know what side WG will choose? Were are the Lions going to Win in your mind? (if you answer has anything to do with saracens I won’t reply to you, just being honest.) Where do you think the Lions will attack the AB’s? WG has said he see’s Owen Farrell as a 10 how detrimental will that view be to the Lions in your opinion?
              Where do you see the Lions scoring all their points?
              And how do the Lions break down the AB’s defence? which IMO is the best in the world but that fact is usually brushed over due to most are focussed on their attack.
              Do you think at this moment WG knows his best side? and if he doesn’t what positions would he be stuggling with? You have talked about going back to Warrenball like WG has another game plan, where have you seen WG team not play Warrenball, and were did you get that idea from if you haven’t? I can answer something very easily about the AB’s so if you put down questions I’ll answer you very honestly. But please don’t refer to Saracens they are a club side a good one but any reference to them as to rationalise the lions victory based on them is preposterous imho.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2017 @ 5:41pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 18th 2017 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

                Alright J, I am gonna do my best to answer your questions. Very good questions I must say.

                Do you think the Lions are a better team than the AB’s?

                Nope. AB’s are the number one team in he world. Until Lions have beaten them, there is no discussion really.

                Do you think you know what side WG will choose?

                Not exactly of course, but there a certain players (about 10) that have that little extra edge and they will all start. Maybe the odd one don’t get selected (form, combinations, gut feelings etc), but the core of team is pretty straight forward.

                Were are the Lions going to Win in your mind?

                The forward battle is their only chance. In my book both starting packs are pretty equal. It will be small small details that decides who gets the upper hand. But, the big upside is the Lions depth among the forwards. They have – like for like – equal replacements at every single forward position. I think we all expect this series to be very brutal and intense. Men will fall, people will get injured. And the AB’s don’t have that good depth among the forwards.
                Actually after this series Hansen have to a lot of work to start blooding new forwards and combos ahead of the WC 2019, way to big risk to be this dependent on a few standout forwards.
                But even if the Lions win the battle up front, there is still much work to do. AB’s have a clear upper hand among the backs (the same advantage the Lions have at forward depth, the AB’s have among the backs). So if the Lions just about wins the battle up front, that will not be enough. AB’s backline don’t need much of a chance to score points. The Lions pack needs to dominate AB’s pack, in order to starve the AB’s and have enough possession themselves to squeeze the AB’s and start putting extra pressure via the score board.

                Where do you think the Lions will attack the AB’s?

                I expect them try to replicate the Irish structures from both Chicago and Dublin. They will try to completely control possession and mauls, kicks and throw the occasional ball out wide to score points. The difference between both the matches in Chicago and Dublin is that this time “Ireland” will have a bench just as packed with talent and grit as the AB’s. To my knowledge it was a very long time since the AB’s faced a team that will have the same kind of quality and depth on the bench. It will be interesting to see how the AB’s handle that. The bench have been AB’s big ace in the hand the last years and it has been used with great success. Now the AB’s might have to think about something else to get edge the last 20-25 minutes.

                Where do you see the Lions scoring all their points?

                Farrell will score most points for sure, but otherwise I think either players like Stander and B Vumipola will crash AB’s in the middle very hard, but with players like L Williams, G North and S Hogg, there are real pace and finesse out wide also. But I don’t think the Lions will be too adventurous out wide. AB’s back are the best one on one defenders in the world and any mistake by the Lions will cost them points right away. Starve that turn over ball and a lot is won for the Lions. They will attack as a unit – and they will attack a bit slower than the AB’s – but they will attack and they will do it non stop. Everyone knows that you can’t beat AB’s if you are on the back foot. Neither home or away.

                And how do the Lions break down the AB’s defence?

                Pressure, pressure and pressure. There is no other way. The Lions neither have the time or quality to try to some fancy tactics. Put relentless pressure on the AB’s pack and they will eventually fall.

                Do you think at this moment WG knows his best side?

                Not yet, But I think he haves about 17-18 boys that are in the match day 23 bracket.

                You have talked about going back to Warrenball like WG has another game plan, where have you seen WG team not play Warrenball, and were did you get that idea from if you haven’t?

                I am no huge fan of Gats and Wales. And have seen way too much Warrenball in my life. But this thing that Gats is totally one dimensional is over the top. He might not be material to coach the AB’s but give the man a break. He has been around at the highest level for some time now. I seriously doubt that you think that Gats dont know his rugby. He is a Kiwi for crying out loud 😉
                And what else could he have done with that Wales side, except playing Warrenball?

                I will get back to you about the AB’s for sure.
                I plan to write one or two big articles here at The Roar soon about this series. One with total focus on Lions and on with AB focus. But until then, a few questions right away.

                If Read, Kaino and Squire is out for the first Test, who plays in AB’s back row?

                How are the AB’s gonna avoid to not be suffocated by the Lions/Irish forwards? They show last November that it could be an issue.

                The Lions will most likely have a superb kicking game with Murray, Sexton and Farrell on the field, who should play in the back three to counter that? Bender is a given, Dagg also I say, but Savea?

                At the moment almost half of the starting AB XV is out injured. Many of them are gonna just come back fit before the first Test. Should they still start considering their form and timing is unlikely to be top notch? And do’t give the answer that they all will be fine please, pro sport just don’t work that way.

                How are the AB’s gonna handle the French refs in Test 1 and 3? Do they realize that they have to tweak some of their aggressiveness, high tackles and their eagerness to be offside. These refs will call it all and they don’t care if penalty count is 13-o in the Lons favor.

                To be continued dear J

              • May 18th 2017 @ 9:52pm
                Jemainok said | May 18th 2017 @ 9:52pm | ! Report

                Those were exceptionsl answers and very astute.

                If Read Kaino and Squires are out who plays in the backrow?

                in that case there would probably be no new blood so the choices will be from A Savea, S Cane, Luatua, Todd, and Scott Barrett So from that my Backrow would be 6 S Barret 7 S Cane 8 Steven Luatua. But As I expect Reid to play I would move S Barret from that equation if Reid is fit.

                How will they avoid there forwards from being suffocated from the Lions forwards?

                Using Variety, so short passes amongst forwards to shift the point of contact and get the Lions big guys moving side ways so often Owen Franks is the first reciever he will have usually a lock running outside him and the key here is Barrett will always be an option as an out the back play and he stresses defences So not knowing were the point of contact is going to be is very stressful for a lot of teams. They have been using this for years but when done well it isolates tacklers and I expect the lions pack to be big guys so making them move laterial is key to stopping any attempt to suffocate the AB’s the offside line how it is reffed will dictate alot here. And also how they attack the breakdown will be influential in how this all pans out and who the halfback is will dictate alot too but we can talk about that further after the first test.

                Who will the AB’s back 3 be?

                Bender, Dagg and Savea will definetly get first shot imo if all are fit, but if any injury occurs I wouldn’t be suprised to see J Barret at FB and who is fit out of the first 3 on the wings.

                Will Hansen start players coming back from Injury even without game time.

                Short answer is yes and No if all are fit I would expect all but Kaino to play but Coles would probably be monitored very closely me personally I would want to see Coles have a few games first but the rest I think will be fine, at the top level everyone is playing with injuries but if they are named they will be expected to fill there core rolls, and we would probably want an 80% Coles out there if Im being honest.

                How will the AB’s deal with French refs if penalty counts go against them.

                Both teams will push the refs pretty hard especially with the offside and at breakdown. But imo I don’t think there will be a 13-0 differential and if there is my TV will know about it haha. So the team that adapts best to the ref will help themselves out alot whether thats the AB’s all the Lions remains to be seen. and from what I saw of 6 nations the head highs seemed to be a bit lenient than in Super Rugby so I see that as a non issue here. But be assured both teams will test the refs patience and I for one wouldn’t want it any other way.

          • May 18th 2017 @ 9:32am
            Goatee said | May 18th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

            T/Man. ‘Saracens. They’re a side STACKED with southern hemisphere players… Remove those players and they’d be a shell of what they are now.’

            Utter tosh.
            Last year they won the European Champions Cup with two former SR players (both saffas) in their 23. By contrast, Racng Metro fielded three former AB’s, including DC. Try harder Taylorman…

            Furthermore, the fact that Saracens have signed more SH players since then, does not invalidate or undermine the quality of their BIL representatives which, I suspect, NZ are about to discover.

            • May 18th 2017 @ 10:37am
              jemainok said | May 18th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              NZ won’t discover much they don’t know about what WG offers as a coach Goatee. He needs to reinvent himself for the BIL to win can he? He didn’t when he last had the BIL he hasn’t with Wales since the last Bil tour. And Saracens may be a good side but NO ONE they have beaten is the AB’s something they will learn. and I heard Jimmy Gopperth is the best player in England what that has to do with anything I don’t know I just thought it might be relevant. Jokes Good luck to your boys Goatee I hope they show up this time.

            • May 18th 2017 @ 10:37am
              jemainok said | May 18th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              NZ won’t discover much they don’t know about what WG offers as a coach Goatee. He needs to reinvent himself for the BIL to win can he? He didn’t when he last had the BIL he hasn’t with Wales since the last Bil tour. And Saracens may be a good side but NO ONE they have beaten is the AB’s something they will learn. and I heard Jimmy Gopperth is the best player in England what that has to do with anything I don’t know I just thought it might be relevant. Jokes Good luck to your boys Goatee I hope they show up this time.

            • May 18th 2017 @ 12:31pm
              taylorman said | May 18th 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

              So why are they hiring them?, clearly because their local net is not wide enough.

              Saracens are not a side that can select its side from within its competition borders, so they need imports.

              And Swedens comment that the club is just as determined to win as the AB’s is just looney tunes. Theyre flavour of the month. In five years they wont be top gun, no NH club ever is.

              In the past I’ve seen how Leinster, Munster, Leicester Tigers, Toulon etc etc are the bees knees.

              When the ABs start losing to NH sides at a lot faster rate than once in a blue moon then I might take more attention of NH rugby, but at the moment all I see is many of our players and coaches getting millions to help win their trophies.

              Hardly a good look.

              • May 18th 2017 @ 8:07pm
                Goatee said | May 18th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

                T/Man – As already demonstrated, NH clubs are capable of winning their domestic competitions without an over reliance upon, or being ‘propped up’ by former SR players. Fact.

                While on the other hand, the last few months have demonstrated that the only thing SH players excel at, at present, is their capacity to prop up the billable hours of the French judiciary!

                Hardly a good look…

              • Roar Guru

                May 19th 2017 @ 12:13am
                taylorman said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:13am | ! Report

                Name one. Name a NH winning side that won a trophy that didn’t have a SH professional in the side on the day.

              • May 19th 2017 @ 4:09am
                Goatee said | May 19th 2017 @ 4:09am | ! Report

                With regard to former SR players, I didn’t say that they didn’t add value… I simply emphasised that there are clubs in the NH who have demonstrated their capacity to win their domestic competitions without being totally reliant upon them.

                Surely, you can grasp the difference between those two statements?

              • May 19th 2017 @ 7:07am
                FunBus said | May 19th 2017 @ 7:07am | ! Report

                Your comment about Saracens was silly. They could field an all NH starting 15 from their own squad and be just as good. The only debate is whether you class the Vunipolas as SH or NH.

              • May 19th 2017 @ 7:19am
                FunBus said | May 19th 2017 @ 7:19am | ! Report

                ‘So why are they hiring them’

                Because there’s a salary cap and it’s cheaper to fill out the very large roster they need with so many players often away on international duty with some SH players no longer playing international rugby.

              • May 19th 2017 @ 7:46pm
                Colin N said | May 19th 2017 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

                I count 11 of the Saracens starting XV that won the Champions Cup last weekend as English-qualified. That will go up to 12 when Michael Rhodes qualifies.

                Of the others in that starting XV, Chris Wyles has been in England since the age of 11 but decided to play for the US because he was never going to be selected for England.

                That leaves Marcelo Bosch and Vincent Koch who, while very good players, are not what you would consider ‘stars.’ In fact, Schalk Burger is probably their only ‘top level’ foreign import and he was on the bench because of Jackson Wray’s form, another academy graduate.

                I would argue that Saracens is leading the way in world rugby right now in terms of the talent it’s producing.

          • May 19th 2017 @ 7:03am
            FunBus said | May 19th 2017 @ 7:03am | ! Report

            You mention Saracens a side stacked with SH players…remove those players and they’d be a shell of what they are now.’

            None of the Saracens ‘stars’ are SH players, unless you want to count the Vunipolas who moved to the UK as small children.

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2017 @ 7:24am
      Poth Ale said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      The Lions might win; the Lions might lose.

      They might get a try in the first test.

      New Zealand will score in fives, the Lions in threes.

      It’ll be a black wash.

      Can’t see where they’re going to get a win from.

      Best Lions side ever of all time.

      Best New Zealand side of all time for ever to infinity.

      Send them packing to Blighty!

      Homes going for up to $2548 a night as Kiwis pounce on Lions rugby tour

      How I talked to the Lions before their win in the third test – Ian McGeechan continues to bore the world.

      Gatland doesn’t know how to coach a team to beat New Zealand.

      Lions may have to roam free – no room in the van parks

      2003 win can inspire Lions.

      Maori feast awaits Lions fans amid fears for impact on islands.

      British & Irish Lion takes Lego on tour. Lions wing’s love for Lego.

      Gatland tells Brown to call him over tour exclusion.

      I wasn’t meant to be a Lion – James Haskell.

      Payne a converted Irishman.

      Fitzy selects his Lion tamers.

      Warburton should sit – Gatland.

    • May 16th 2017 @ 7:46am
      The Electronic Swagman said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      I am looking forward to this series immensely. I haven’t seen the weekend’s Crusaders v Hurricanes match as yet but apparently Beauden Barrett was shut down. If that’s the case then I’m sure Warren Gatlan will be watching it.
      If its possible to do that, and if its possible to win the forward battle, I can see a pathway to victory for the Lions. It is an extremely big “if”.

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2017 @ 7:58am
      Poth Ale said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      Apparently, Owen Farrell was knocked down in the Saracens v Clermont European final. If NZ can do that, they might be on their way to winning the series.

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