Lions Vs New Zealand Test Series

Lions Vs New Zealand Preview

The first Test of the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand is now only days away and the speculation is mounting as to the makeup of Warren Gatland’s Test team. Looking at the XV he has selected to take on the Chiefs you can rule out many of the 23 making it into the Test 23 for the first Test.

Looking at the makeup of the bench in particular where he has selected Alun Wyn Jones and Cory Hill to back up Courtney Lawes and Iain Henderson , 3 of those 4 will be battling for only one spot on the Lions bench because Sam Warburton will be the back row cover on Saturday.

 Justin Tipuric can feel very aggrieved not to be in the shake up for the first Test. He has just been squeezed out by the strong showing of Peter O Mahony and Sean O Brien in particular. The team nearly selects itself going on team selection for the Chiefs game.

The squad has been split in two groups as has been the case in past tours. Gatland can say every place is still up for grabs but going on the opening two weeks of the tour he has stuck to what he knows best.

He has selected Ireland’s test centre pairing of Henshaw and Payne but this has come too late to get involved in Test number 1 but that isn’t to say that this partnership won’t get a chance in Test 2 or 3. Jonathan Joseph didn’t do enough in his few appearances to warrant his selection for test number 1. The pairing of Te’o and Davies looked nailed on even in defeat. Like O Driscoll and Roberts in 2009 or O Driscoll and Henderson in 2001, this partnership loos like the most likely to cause damage to New Zealand.

Looking to New Zealand they have warmed up with a 78-0 win over Samoa in Eden Park and won the game pulling up. They got the chance to try out combinations in the game and Steve Hansen although he will know his team didn’t really get tested will realise that the Lions although they have struggled at times on this Tour this is the moment all the warm up games have been leading to and they will came out with all guns blazing but I feel this particular approach won’t cut it when it comes to facing New Zealand and although you know what to expect when you take New Zealand on it is easier said than done to try and stop them.

The Lions have bludgeoned there to wins over the Provincial Barbarians and The Crusaders and have strangled those teams at scrum time and in the maul aswell.

These two aspects of play have lead the Lions to victory but the sledge hammer approach will not be the way to beat the All Blacks and unfortunately over the last two weeks The Lions have failed to show anything other than grunt and have failed to deliver on the chances they have created  and you just will not beat the All Blacks if you can’t cross the white wash. In certain games the Lions have created 3 on 2’s on 2 on 1’s and have failed for the most part to finish each of those chances off.

Last Saturday the tries they scored where a penalty try and a try from a driving maul. While they were great to watch these two facets of play won’t be good enough to beat the All Blacks to give yourself an opportunity to win a Test Series.

The most disappointing aspect of the last few weeks is the lack of ability when it comes to delivering a killer pass that will enable the receiver to try and take his man on. As I have said before some may say I am striving for perfection too often when it comes to taking the All Blacks on but you have to be whiter than white to beat them in most cases in particular down in New Zealand.  

When New Zealand get a chance to score a try they will convert 9 times out of 10 and for this reason alone you can be sure they will punish any lapse in concentration by the Lions this weekend. They are a team that strives for perfection and when you think they have reached that level they kick on time and again. They conveyer belt of talent is so strong in all positions that they can call upon many players who will come in and do a good job.  

The chance to play the Lions comes around every 12 years and these players know they may not do this again so now is there one chance to write they names in lights and be forever remembered. The challenge that faces the Lions is huge but remember if you achieve a Test Series victory you like the New Zealand Team of 2005 will be forever remembered….. All the very best to the Lions…..

I will now select the two teams I think will face off next Saturday…

New Zealand XV

15 Ben Smith

14 Reiko Ioane  

13 Anton Leinert Brown

12 Sonny Bill Williams

11 Julian Savea

10 Beauden Barrett

9 Aaron Smith

8 Kieran Read

7 Sam Cane

6 Akira Ioane

5 Sam Whitelock

4 Brodie Retallick

3 Owen Franks

2 Codie Taylor

1 Joe Moody

16 Nathan Harris

17 Wyatt Crockett

18 Charlie Faumina

19 Scott Barrett

20 Matt Todd

21 TJ Perenara

22 Jordie Barrett

23 Waisake Naholo


Lions XV

15 Leigh Halfpenny

14 Anthony Watson

13 Jonathan Davies

12 Owen Farrell

11 Liam Williams

10 Jonathan Sexton

9 Conor Murray

8 Taulupe Faletau

7 Sean O Brien

6 Peter O Mahony

5 Maro Itoje

4 George Kruis

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Jamie George

1 Mako Vunipola

16 Ken Owens

17 Jack Mc Grath

18 Kyle Sinkler

19 Justin Tipuric

20 Alun Wyn Jones

21 Rhys Webb

22 Ben Te’o

23 Elliott Daly



Cian Mc Gibney


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