It’s felt like a lifetime of waiting but the Lions and the All Blacks will finally do battle this Saturday.
Since landing down under certain players have firmly put themselves straight into that starting team for the first test. However, up until the selection, most fans could only guess who would be playing in what position. The left wing, the back row and George Kruis’ partner in the second-row were open to many different names.
The left wing, the back row and George Kruis’ partner in the second-row were open to many different names. At long last however, our guessing can be brought to a halt as the official lineup has now been made.
Surprisingly, Warren Gatland has shocked us all with his team and has taught us a lot about how the Lions will play…
5. Form is worth more than reputation
George North on his day is the British and Irish Lions most feared player. However, he hasn’t produced his trademark displays since the Six Nations and has looked lacklustre on tour. Many believed Gatland remained loyal but he has done what’s right for the team and forgot about loyalties. Elliot Daly is in better form and warrants his place in the team. The same with Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien who have produced better displays in New Zealand hence why they are the starting 6 and 7.
Elliot Daly is in better form and warrants his place in the team. The same with Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien who have produced better displays in New Zealand hence why they are the starting 6 and 7. Meanwhile, tour captain Sam Warbuton has to settle for the bench.
4. Attack is needed
If the Lions were hoping goal kicking and defence were enough, they would be foolish. Gatland has come to the realisation the Lions must produce tries to beat the All Blacks. This is why he has opted for an exciting back three in Daly, Anthony Watson and Liam Williams.
These men have the pace and craft to help their side to the try line. Gatland has opted for attacking flair rather than defensive dependency and reliable goal kicking. This proves that the attacking intent is there and Lions fans will be licking their lips at the talent in this back line.
3. Gatland wants leaders
Much has been made about who will be captain and the responsibility they will have. When in fact, what the Lions need is multiple leaders and this is shown by Gatland’s selection.
In Peter O’Mahony, Owen Farrell, Conor Murray and Alun Wyn Jones, the Lions have got leaders that most men would follow into battle. If they can rally their troops and lead by example expect the All Blacks to be 1-0 down by Saturday afternoon.
2. The Lions pack is phenomenal
When Steve Borthwick and Graham Rowntree read out their forwards for the first Test they must have been filled with excitement. The pack is full of ball carriers, beasts at the breakdown and set piece specialists.
The front row have been exceptional on tour. Solid scrummaging, both props have carried well with soft hands and Jamie George has been pinpoint at the lineout. George Kruis will be the smooth operator at the lineout and Jones’ experience will guide the Lions.
O’Mahony can be a nuisance at the lineout while Faletau and O’Brien will be smashing through that gainline. The prospect of the Lions’ bench is also a mouth watering prospect.
1. We’re in for a hell of a treat!
Looking at the lineups, there has never been a test match of this quality. All the nominees for the 2016 World Player of the Year came from these nations and they are the dominant force in world rugby right now.
Watching the Lions trying to counter the New Zealand attacking prowess or the Lions at scrum time makes for a great Saturday morning. The All Blacks have asserted their dominance over the world for too long and could this be the time for change?
If there was ever a game of rugby to watch it would be this one!