Blueprint: All Blacks vs the Lions

Jokerman Roar Guru

By Jokerman, Jokerman is a Roar Guru

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72 Have your say

    The Lions came into New Zealand without a roar and more like a cat sound.

    Slowly their power emerged after the Crusaders game, but then it dimmed again after the Highlanders. It then came back against the Maori and they showed how threatening they can be. Their simple game plan dulled the Maori, and their spirits it seemed.

    The Lions have awoken and now believe. One can feel the momentum. Even Warren Gatland had some new confidence, and gave a few digs at Steve Hansen โ€“ silly though, no need to poke the beast, the challenge is hard enough as it is.

    The Super teams have shown the Lions strengths and weaknesses. Though we are now realising the Lions play two different teams, and their number one side is far superior to their mid-week team.

    The All Blacks have only played once; they have shown very little for the opposition. The rust took only 25 minutes to disappear and then it was outright pure, rugby attack. I think all the Lions learned from this were the All Blacks can be lethal from anywhere on the park, and the Lions must try and suffocate them, and play strong, structured rugby.

    That would probably work against most teams in the world, but with the All Blacks at home, some imagination and flair is needed to unlock their mysterious brilliance.

    The French referees won’t help the All Blacks, but Steve Hansen has been diplomatic and open to adapt to the changes required. Hansen has accepted, not denied. He has been at one with the controversy and has played it the best he can, and he will adapt.

    You could say Hansen has played this part the opposite way to how Michael Cheika would. It’s when the pressure is on that Cheika’s dysfunctional fighting manner comes out. The All Blacks later in the year will show where Cheika is at.

    The Lions blueprint is there to be seen. They have structure, tight play, immaculate kicking, military like with a defence that is fast and tight. Their line speed in defence is incredibly fast and it shuts down the attack immediately. But tiredness and relentless pressure with variables in attack can unlock the Lions speed in defence. The All Blacks know what is coming and they will be prepared.

    I think Hansen will note how the Samoans’ line speed slowed near the end, and the All Blacks were allowed to apply their attacking magic, and they did. Their attack flooded Samoa, and Samoa had no answer.

    The Lions won’t tire as much at the end like Samoa, but they will tire, and Hansen will make sure it happens. Hansen knows the All Blacks have to empty the tank and play with precision in the final 20. If the All Blacks can continue to attack, and at speed, the Lions line speed will slow down and give the All Blacks opportunities.

    Julian Savea of New Zealand All Blacks scores a try

    (AAP Image/ David Rowland)

    The All Blacks will lift the tempo in the last quarter, and it will be interesting to see how the Lions react.

    Once the game becomes open and relaxed then the All Blacks will become potent; they are then allowed to fully express themselves. And it’s often a brief moment or a three-minute spell during the game where the structure loosens, and then bang, the All Blacks strike. The All Blacks can untangle the Lions defence well before the last quarter.

    The All Blacks blueprint is like a lethal machine. They do the core basics exceptionally well so the backs can strike and cause damage, and the forwards too. They are linked and it’s done with precision. They want an open game. They have sublime attacking intricacies within their simple game plan that is meticulous.

    Floyd Mayweather as a boxer had a defensive code that no one could break. The All Blacks have an attacking code that no one can break โ€“ not at home, they haven’t lost since 2009. They haven’t lost at Eden Park since 1994. Can the Lions break it? We will see. It’s the ultimate test, though I believe the All Blacks will be the winners.

    It’s time for the All Blacks to break the Lions spirit and show their class, and allow their blueprint to dominate. The Lions players do seem like nice guys, but rugby in Aotearoa is a battlefield, and it’s something they’re going to find out. The Lions bullied the Maori, and now the spirit of the nation waits for the Garden of Eden to allow justice, and then it will be.

    The All Blacks need this; to take them to even higher grounds. The cauldron waits…

    All Blacks by 13

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    The Crowd Says (72)

    • June 20th 2017 @ 8:36am
      Gewurtz said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      Clash of rugby-styles. Let the better team wins!

      • June 20th 2017 @ 9:53am
        jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        Gewrurtz and may we all enjoy it.

    • June 20th 2017 @ 9:05am
      Jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      JM good article a lot is said about the Lions defence, but is it better than the AB’s? What is this Lions team like if their forwards can’t dominate? I just haven’t seen enough diversity in game plan, that if they lose the micro battles they have a plan b or c, and there at least to me is a very real possibility they could lose those battles. However if the Lions can win those battles anything is possible, and that has me excited for Saturday.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 9:19am
        Ralph said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        You could reverse your question and ask, “What is this All Blacks team like if their forwards can’t dominate?”.

        Any talk of plans b+ are quite pointless I feel. No team that comes together once very four years from four different playing cultures, with goodness knows what kind of national baggage, that plays its preparation games on the tour can realistically be expected to develop more than one game plan.

        Gatland has one game plan and the success on the day will depend on their will and accuracy to impose that game plan on the opposition.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 9:37am
          stainlesssteve said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          Ralph, your contention that Gatland has only one game plan is the big question for Saturday.
          With bright players from four national teams, we must assume that some of them are bright, he will have many ideas available to him, some of them with a history of being worked up and developed.
          If he only has one game plan, he won’t win, and he won’t look too bright

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 9:53am
            Ralph said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

            It sure is Steve.

            To my mind it is not a question of how bright individuals are, it is that rugby is a team game and how much time they get to spend together. If I was Lion’s coach I would try and do one game plan very well rather than split my efforts over multiple game plans with the amount go time available.

            I think this was telegraphed when Gatland left guys like Finn Russell at home.

            • June 20th 2017 @ 9:56am
              jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

              Ralph but what if there game plan doesn’t work? no malice with this question just looking to start a discussion.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2017 @ 10:06am
                Ralph said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

                I get it Jemainok, there is going to be huge pressure on that first half.

                Who goes into the shed behind.., and by how much? If I were Murray Mexted I might say the psychic energy in the match will be key.

                The Lion’s might make some minor adjustment in their attack if they get behind (spread slightly wider). But the trap the AB’s lay is to suck teams into playing their game.

                If you were Gatland, what would your plan B be?

              • June 20th 2017 @ 10:12am
                stainlesssteve said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

                true enough, Ralph, but these guys are full-time professionals. We can expect them to adapt quickly, and to pick up new tricks fairly easily.
                The All Blacks have game plans and also, they have the lisence to cut loose and be creative, and a history of success in it.
                I wasn’t very interested in the Lions till they monstered the Mฤori All Blacks, (who I think did well) but these tests will be fascinating
                The first 20 minutes will be intense like nothing we’ve seen before

              • June 20th 2017 @ 10:32am
                jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

                Ralph a little variety would be all I would say. C Murray having a little dart every now and then, have multiple runners off sexton/Farrell inside and outside and have the 10 sometimes playing flat with not so much of the play behind the gainline. so not anything monumental but enough little things to get the AB’s thinking. Because if they can create problems in area’s other than what they are fundamentally exceptional at, it adds more volume to them imposing their game plan and also should open up opportunities and space for them else where but that is just my opinion on that one Ralph, what you have said has some serious validity too it also..

        • June 20th 2017 @ 9:45am
          jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Ralph quite correct. ‘However if the Lions can win those battles anything is possible’
          If the AB forwards lose the battle, it will give the backs less space put a lot of pressure on the 9 and 10 axis and rely on individual brilliance which when under pressure will imo cause mistakes and allow the Lions to build more pressure and strangle the AB’s for space. plan B+ being pointless, imo it is the exact opposite the Lions may well lose the battles that allows their game plan to work, so are you suggesting they should just keep doing something that isn’t working? isn’t that by definition insanity? Look I know the Lions have limited time together and the logistics make it near impossible to add multiple dimensions to there game plan but going into a game against the AB’s no matter how good you think your game plan is comes with serious risk that is essentially all I was saying.

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 10:01am
            Ralph said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

            I think that when you put all your money on Red Nine and the wheels fall off .. well, the wheels fall off.

            This game is about who can impose their game plan. Lion’s are building well, combinations coming together, game plan accuracy, particularly in defence which is key, is high. All Blacks, coming in a bit cold with limited playing time and some injury niggles but used to playing together.

            What will be interesting to me will be the if the Lion’s get their blanket on top whether this youngish AB’s team can flick that switch and beat the Lion’s with their own game plan.

            Maybe I am wrong, as you imply, it must be a real concern for Gatland. But I suspect that if the opposite happens and the AB’s get a good score ahead then the Lion’s plan B will be a real Hail Mary. I just can’t see that Gatland ever had any options outside of plan A.

            • June 20th 2017 @ 10:07am
              jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

              Ralph totally agree with all you said their is a lot of unknowns in this. thanks for your honest opinion by the way it got me thinking.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 12:31pm
        Jokerman said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

        Well said, Jem. That’s the missing item I see, the b plan, or the variation, the surprise. Hansen knows what coming, therefore he can prep better for his own side as the path is clearer…unlike say facing a brilliant French side.

        I don’t believe the Lions can suppress the Black magic (All Blacks here of course..!). I mean not for 80. The Lions backs are incredibly poor finishers. Overlaps they just stuff it up, and all the time.

        The All Blacks potent attack surely is going to be too much for the Lions. It will be…

        • June 20th 2017 @ 12:49pm
          jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

          True JM I think the Lions have been quite wasteful in attack, but as long as they can keep the score board moving whether in 3,5 or 7’s it won’t matter they just need to create scoreboard pressure, and in doing so that can rattle even the AB’s. They have shown they can dominate Forward packs in NZ, and I’m not totally sure they can’t dominate the AB’s forwards, I have serious reservations on that of course, such is my biased to the AB’s but even so I am not willing to write off what this Lions team can achieve until after the 1st test.

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 1:25pm
            Jokerman said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

            That’s right, Jem until you see the first test you can’t write them off.

            It will be so much easier, I believe, to know what will happen after the first test. There’s quite a lot of mystery with how these two teams will find each other.

            Auckland has rain on Saturday. Let’s hope it miss’s the game.

            The rain, French ref, they’re the variables that make it harder for the All Blacks.

            SBW down the blind will be good, if they decide to position him there for a few moves. Give him some room. A Smith, Barret, SBW, ALB, B Smith with Retallick linking, all looking to break that iron defence. I can’t wait to see how Hansen delivers it. What a game it will be man!

    • June 20th 2017 @ 9:33am
      stainlesssteve said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      lots of really good points, J-man, but there are three that you missed
      1) the issue of kicking the ball away. From two aspects:
      1)a) the Lions showed they can hang onto possession in pick-and-go, (they can also make turnovers when their opponents have possession), so, give them the ball, and you will condemn yourself to a lot of tackling, and they aren’t easy to tackle.
      1)b) damn, that was a good point and i’ve forgotten it already
      2) You should see my cat! She is formidable! Never underestimate a cat!
      3) I’ve forgotten that one too, and it was the best one. I’m glad it’s you writing these articles and not me

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 12:16pm
        Jokerman said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

        Steve, I know about the cats…I’ve had a stray turn up, I fed it and now a couple of female friends of mine are saying I have to keep it…but I’ll figure it ! somehow

        The Lions? I’m hoping they’re gonna be teenage kinda Lions, after being messed up in Aotearoa !! But man this will be awesome, its what the All Blacks need.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 4:45pm
          stainlesssteve said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

          we got a cat a couple of years ago from the SPCA. She was half wild, and has adjusted beautifully to the job of owning and controlling us. Unlike the dogs, she more than earns her keep.

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 5:24pm
            Jokerman said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

            Cool – I’ll see how it goes. I always wanted a half-wolf, so I could start off with a stray cat. The cat is actually quite psychic (truely, really, think about her and she turns up), she may just hone my psychic skills. 13 it is for the All Blacks! Probably a really close first half and the All Blacks will strike just on half time.

    • June 20th 2017 @ 10:01am
      Chivas said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      Very parochial article there Jokerman.

      Just one small point, Hansen was actually the one running off at the mouth about the Lions team and giving his opinion on Gatland’s selections as is Hansen’s style. Gatland was pestered about some of the comments by Hansen by the media and Gatland politely suggested Hansen must be feeling the pinch to be offering up his unqualified views on the Lions.

      So if that is poking the bear, then who really gives a rats. I think it is speaking up for yourself and not being subservient to the NZ media and Hansen’s ego. Gatland has spent the best years of his life in NZ, playing rugby in a fairly bruising environment just south of the Bombay hills, so I think he knows the landscape and the actors fairly well, including what it means to be in the shadow of a team better than you, but still rising to the occasion and shutting a few mouths at the same time.

      In fact I would suggest with his family and connections, he knows it better than some commentators give him credit for.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 10:04am
        stainlesssteve said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Chivas, NZ media mostly owned by Fairfax, Murdoch and one other corporate mob. Aussies nominally, but anti-national in fact.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 10:12am
        Charlie Turner said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        Good comment.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 10:14am
        jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Chivas before the series it is all theatrics, shouldn’t read to much into the things said they only add to the emotion and occasion.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 11:29am
        Machooka said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        ‘Very parochial article there Jokerman.’

        Thanks Chivas… I hadn’t noticed that bit ๐Ÿ™‚

      • June 20th 2017 @ 12:32pm
        The Sheriff said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

        Parochial but one would have to agree it is up to the Lions to do the job.
        No-one on the planet can see them stifling the ABs attack for 80 minutes, not even this one-eyed Wallaby supporter.

        • Roar Guru

          June 21st 2017 @ 9:57am
          Jokerman said | June 21st 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

          I agree, Sheriff I’m getting the feeling Gatland believes he can – strangle the All Blacks for 80, and I doubt Lions will produce something different. It’s worked so far so they will go deeper into the same stuff – Gateball.

          The All Blacks will eventually tear them apart. Just the settling in period where the Lions could be close. The Lions could get lucky with a one off try, or not, but consistently scoring tries I do not see.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 12:42pm
        Jokerman said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

        Gatland is trying to play mind games, and he’s very poor at it.

        It looks as if he has been advised to say something so it comes out as a slack actor who doesn’t know his Lines. Unfortunately, Gatland only gets one take – with his comments, and then one shot at the All Blacks.

        Gatland has Gateball all polished and he’s starting to believe he can win from this position.

        This reminds me slightly of the current Americas Cup. No one really knew who was the stronger one until race day, and then in one race, NZ was clearly the superior boat. This is what we have here, but we can’t be sure until the game starts.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 4:49pm
          stainlesssteve said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

          i’m predicting another come from behind American victory
          For the sake of maximising advertising revenue
          Those boats run scores of computer-driven adjustments, and can be hacked
          The whole thing is scripted

    • June 20th 2017 @ 10:38am
      Rugby Tragic said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      It amazes me that AB supporters cannot see the wood for the trees. Yes, I too am hoping for a victory on Saturday, but reading the many articles and comments, the result is ‘not in doubt’.

      I think the match will be very competitive, the BIL’s are not going to play into the hands of Hansen’s AB’s, they will play to their strengths. Of course the team that adapts best will prevail (and may that team be the All Blacks!) but the unknown is which of the contrasting styles will prevail.

      There is talk that the BIL’s will need to score 30+ to win… they might be right but that is assuming the AB’s will find sufficient holes in the BIL’s defence to set that base target. Easy to just say yes they can … how many points did the Crusaders score with their pack almost a AB pack … 3 points. The Maori with their much vaunted back-line scored 10 points (sure their forwards were apparently dominated – I have not yet seen a replay). Respectively the BIL’s scored 12 and 32 … more than enough.

      AB supporters will say “yes but that was not the AB’s” …. correct .. but the AB’s too, are not machines or robots, their bodies and flesh will also yield to the physical nature of the contest too …

      Defence wins big matches, and that counts for both sides.

      Anyhow I am looking forward to Saturday so that a lot of this speculation (and that is all it is) will be laid to rest…

      GO ALL BLACKS!!!!!!!!!!

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 11:09am
        Ralph said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        At this stage of the tour, the week before the first test, I would like to offer the following thanks:

        Thanks to the players of four unions for coming
        Thanks to the wive’s and families for letting those players chase their dreams
        Thanks to the whole team management, it’s quite a road show to stage
        Thanks to the unions for continuing to believe in the Lion’s
        Thanks to Mr Gatland for pulling a game plan together that looks so threatening
        Thanks again to the players who are putting that game plan on the track

        I am super excited for Saturday whatever the result, which can go either way because from where I am standing there is no favourite. I hope both teams fire all their shots. I hope there are no yellow cards. I hope the ref has a blinder.

        Sure, I hope my All Blacks win – but what a spectacle, what challenge, what a test!

        Thank you Lions!!!!

        GO THE BLACKS!!!!!!!

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 11:14am
          Ralph said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

          P.S.. Thank you Lion’s fans. Without you it would be half of what is it.

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 11:24am
            Machooka said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

            Thanks Ralph ๐Ÿ™‚

          • June 20th 2017 @ 12:34pm
            The Sheriff said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

            They certainly create atmosphere. TRUE BELIEVERS ALL!

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 11:21am
        Machooka said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        Hey Tragic… good summary of the facts before the real facts are known ๐Ÿ˜‰

        For mine this match, obviously, will be a contrast of styles and whoever can manage their style the best for the full 80 mins will probably be the winner.

        The Lions definitely have the ammo the suffocate their opponent while the almighty ABs have the ammo to hit you hard if you make a mistake. So it’ll be trench warfare involving plenty of bayonet charges, hand-grenades being continually lobbed, and generally one nasty war up front. The trick for the almighty ABs is whether they can catch the odd hand-grenade and return it before it goes off. Methinks they can and it will this brilliance of bravery that will tip them victory. Regardless, there hasn’t been a war as eagerly anticipated as this Test has for some time.
        Love it!

        Thanks Jokerman for your read… and nice to see you managed to stick one into Cheika as well ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 11:59am
          Jokerman said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

          I’m feeling for Cheika. Everyone is being a bit tough on him! I wrote this before he lost to Scotland. Ease up on the guy eh?!!

          You’re right about the two contrasts, Chook (or two blueprints), and the one who can truly express it will win.

          There is the unknown here…I do think Hansen is smarter and 13 is a symbolic number..!

        • June 20th 2017 @ 12:27pm
          Rugby Tragic said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

          Yep Chook…. really looking forward to it … will also miss tonight’s game unless it is screened in the Qantas Lounge but really, it all starts on Saturday huh? … no more speculation … may the best team win and ‘may that team be the All Blacks’ … *S*

      • June 20th 2017 @ 11:44am
        Phil said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        RT,very good comments from a balanced AB’s supporter,unlike the article.I also don’t see any reason to include Cheika in an article about the Lions v All Blacks,but I guess Jman has to have his usual dig.
        Looks like being an incredible game of rugby on the weekend.Hope it lives up to expectations.

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 12:22pm
          Jokerman said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

          You’ve got that wrong, Phil Cheika has a problem with me…!

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 12:09pm
        Jokerman said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

        Well said, tragic. The Lions are the second best (they are..just be honest :)) team in the world so they can do it. And we don’t quite know what will happen until these two teams merge.

        I’m looking forward to how the All Blacks respond. They haven’t lost at Eden in 23 years remember. The Lions are better than what we thought but the All Blacks will take them. Close for the first 35 I believe…but we will see.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 12:20pm
          jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          JM I am hoping for 80 minutes of brutality. I don’t see much in the first test because of unknowables and these being two primed teams who will leave it all on the feild, and my thinking is if the Lions can control the tempo we will be in for a cracker of a series. It will be interesting to see if the AB’s can do there thing and test the Lions Aerobically.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 12:22pm
          Rugby Tragic said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

          “…. The Lions are better than what we thought … ” …. Hmmm Jokerman … “we thought?” … I am a glass half fill type of guy … (until I drink it) …. but I always thought that the BIL’s were going to be strong but how strong and could the various players from 4 nations gel together?… Ahhh the unknown! … The answer will start to unravel on Saturday.

          I repeat… I am hopeful that the AB’s can prevail but understand that it will not be as easy as many ‘might want to believe’. Black and Blue runs through my veins and I will support the All Blacks and Blues, win or lose, as long as I am able too, but understand that they need to respect the opposition whoever they may be … nothing is a given, such is sport…

          • June 20th 2017 @ 12:30pm
            jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            RT we fans are parochial, but the AB’s will give the Lions the respect they deserve. And that is one of the reasons they are so hard to beat. In this the respect will be mutual imo.

            • Roar Guru

              June 20th 2017 @ 1:00pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

              Hello J

              I pretty much read and listen to everything that comes out from the AB’s camp, and there has been a sharp difference between their comments and some Kiwi commentators here at the Roar and in Kiwi media (not everyone though, and that is important to remember).

              The AB’s camp has been very vocal about this is set up to be a very very special challenge. They are quietly confident they can beat the Lions, but in no way do they live under the illusion that this locked in 3-0 series win. They know they will most likely lose this series unless they perform at a higher level than ever before. And for a team that embraces challenges and improvements, what could be better than that?

              I get that fans have another outlook than the players, but I really don’t get the need to write off the Lions even before the series has started and to discredit and ridicule anyone who says they believe that Lions actually can win this series.

              I also listen to everything that comes out from the Lions camp, and they have not said one bad word about the AB’s and they have embraced all things Kiwi and Maori since they arrived a couple of weeks ago. Just this morning I read some comments from Andy Farrell that I think is very telling what the Lions perspective is:

              “It’s going to be a hell of a game,” he said. “I know we’ll turn up and we’re a good side brimming for a big challenge. Mentally and physically we’ll be ready. It’ll be interesting to see how the two teams marry together, the chemistry of that, who adapts well on the run.

              “That’s what the All Blacks have been very good at over the last period of time. We’ve got to be aware of that.

              “Physically I don’t think we’ve disappointed so far. Will we need to up our game? Certainly, we will do. I think we’re going to have to take ourselves to a place that individually we’ve not been to before. But the boys realise that and are excited by that challenge.

              “I think the game has cranked up [since 2013]. The All Blacks have certainly got better over the last four years and are reigning supreme at this moment in time. We’ve got to get close to that.”

              And to finish on a positive note, what is not to like about this. The best AB’s team ever facing what looks like to be a very special Lions team – with a plan – facing off three Saturdays in a row.

              I am gonna enjoy every second of this. The life as a rugby fan does not get better than this.

              Win or lose, I will have nothing but respect and admiration for both teams after the series. It would be a nice bonus if I only have respect and admiration for the AB’s fans and Kiwi media after the series also.

              • June 20th 2017 @ 1:29pm
                jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

                Neutral many AB fans are fickle myself included. But that applies to fans of every team all over the world. If the Lions win or the series is competitive they will get the accolades they deserve. They will be rightly judged on their performances during the test matches, and all the talk before is just white noise. Imo I believe kiwi’s want to see the AB’s challenged, and we want these Lions to fulfil there potential, but I guess there have been too many false dawns to come to our shores, to not be a little skeptical as fans. But like I said the AB’s will show this Lions team the respect they deserve. But after Saturday we will have a clearer picture. I am just hoping for 3 quality games of rugby to be honest Neutral, and until Saturday all the questions of fans and media will remained unanswered, but by Sunday we will all have a few answers.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2017 @ 1:54pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

                I like the fact that there is a golden standard that if an NH team or a player wants respect in NZ, they better come down and earn it. I actually believe that the Lions players and coaches like that also. But it is big difference between that and to actively looking for reasons to ridicule and disrespect the Lions and people who back them to win the series.

                Has it really been so many false dawns? When did NH teams come to NZ with an attitude? One could argue 2005 maybe, but apart from that?

                And if the Lions wins, I am not sure at that the same persons who disrespect them now, will all the sudden will embrace sportsmanship. One just have to read the comments after Crusaders and Maori games – the ref, the rain, the bore, the bla bla bla – and after the Blues and Highlanders game – they are useless, they are useless, they are useless – to understand that it is very unlikely.

                But enough of that. I am no way attacking you, because you have been nothing but a gentleman in your comments and I seriously looking forward to discuss all the games with you.

                P.S. I am have curious for some time now, what does your name mean and where does it come from?

              • June 20th 2017 @ 2:16pm
                jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

                Neutral my name is Jemain Okinga drop the Inga the winger and your left with JemainOK.
                On what people say, there are enough level headed kiwi’s to even out those views if you look carefully. I actually liked the ref against the Crusaders for the fact it has given the AB coaching staff time to prepare for French reffing and how they interpret the game, and what might be required to prepare for a different interpretation than SH teams might be used too. I just thought it was only his lack of communication that made it hard for the teams, But he showed on Saturday when he communicates the teams will react and adapt to his rulings, but he is calm and methodical and I think he has a big future as a ref. All the rest is just background noise Neutral the AB’s won’t care if it rains or is dry they are adept at both. And they would have noticed what happened in the MAB game, if they drop high ball and don’t get parity in the forwards it will be a hard slog. I would suggest you worry less about the comments and media and get ready for some quality rugby. And the Lions should play the rugby that gives them the best opportunity to win imo.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2017 @ 3:38pm
                taylorman said | June 20th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

                That is common neutral. What the ABs say publicly is a different matter to what theyre fans say. Thats always bern the case.
                They always play up the challenge of the other side because to says things in the same vain as say ido would be absurd.
                Hansen says every year that whoever is touring is going to be tough.
                That way he gives nothing away, nothing the opposition or media can use.
                I say every year theyre going to win 3-0 in the june series and every time since they started they have. But my comments dont matter. They dont give the opposition any ammo cos fans views are all over the place.
                That doesnt mean that hansens confidence is any less than mine. In fact its far greater than mine.
                You dont really think that after 45 straight home wins hes really thinking they could lose?
                For one he cant afford to. Hes not in the business of losing. What he says and what he thinks are two very different things.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2017 @ 3:58pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 20th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

                Of course the players and coaches can’t talk like fans and armchair pundits, and if you were not so fast to reply, you would see that I have already acknowledge that in a reply J-man.
                And I am well aware of how the AB’s camp talks about opponents both before and after games. But I thought that you – who seem to follow the AB’s ultra close – could see, hear and realize that there is a difference in how they talk about opponents. It is all in the details. As much as he gave props ahead to Samoa and say it will be tough Test, he does not say that Samoa is possibly one of the best teams to come to NZ for a long long time.

                My opinion is that Hansen is in the business of Test rugby, and losing is part of the game. Yes, he does not lose often, but it has happened and it will happen again.
                And I seriously believe that Hansen is well aware of that losing this series is something that can happen. If he did not think that, and did all in his powers to prevent it, he would be the wrong man and the wrong job.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2017 @ 4:42pm
                taylorman said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

                Well with Hansen stepping down in 2019 it’s actually possible that he won’t lose again. It’s not likely but it’s also not out of the question.

                The other point you make about those kiwis on here predicting a 3-0 series win and that for some reason that is inflammatory and no I don’t necessarily agree that they don’t need to perform at a higher level than ever before.

                You do realise that that 3-0 is actually the favourite score amongst every single bookie and odds maker on the planet don’t you? Last time I looked anyway.

                Your pick of 2-1 is by far the outside pick of anyone I’ve seen on the one has picked 3-0 to the Lions, you are the only one who’s picked 2-1, and your suggesting AB fans are a being inflammatory for going with what the professionals are willing to pay money for.

                We fans choose it with our hearts, the bookies choose it with their minds and wallets, and oddly, we both think the same thing, making your picks the inflammatory outlier.

                How about some humility on that count?

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2017 @ 5:45pm
                taylorman said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

                Well maybe that was a little terse, it just looked like one of those why can’t AB fans be as humble as the ABs speeches.

                Lions facing the Chiefs now and hopefully the Chiefs follow the same pattern and win. They should front up physically enough.

                Go Beaver! Go Chiefs!

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 2:00pm
            Jokerman said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

            I’m quietly confident, Tragic. I’m impressed with Lions but have more faith in the All Blacks.

            But there is the unknown where you try and figure out what’s going to happen. Saturday we find out. Game on !

            Oh and your Blues are on the improve …just those dam other kiwi sides! ! A round robin and you’d be in the finals with the chance of an upset…you know peaking! Another time cuz.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 1:09pm
        The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

        Always a pleasure to read your comments RT. And this one is top notch. For me you are a perfect ambassador for New Zealand and what supporting a team should be all about.

        Personally I am not emotionally invested in any team, but I have put some money on a Lions series win. No crazy sums, but enough to buy all Kiwis in the bar drinks for the rest of the night (and that is exactly what I am planning to do if the Lions wins).

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 3:41pm
          taylorman said | June 20th 2017 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

          Oh dear, looks like kiwis will be shouting again?

        • June 20th 2017 @ 11:30pm
          Steve Wright said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:30pm | ! Report

          Rather strange it struck me, Neutral view, the inconsistencies between the allocation of guru title on you, (presumably because somebody thinks you know something of the game), the tenor of your comments re the teams, and your betting preference. Care to comment on who seems to have got something wrong?

          • Roar Guru

            June 21st 2017 @ 3:18am
            taylorman said | June 21st 2017 @ 3:18am | ! Report

            Current TAB odds…NZ 3-0… 1.52. Lions 2-1… 7.00. Not quite locked in?

    • June 20th 2017 @ 10:49am
      Jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:49am | ! Report

      Awesome comment RT, One question is the AB and the Lions defensive systems the same. They look similar but seem to have a subtle difference.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 11:27am
        Machooka said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        Jemainok… one is Black and one is Red. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • June 20th 2017 @ 11:38am
          jemainok said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

          Chook you noticed the subtle difference too, hehe.

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