The squad is selected. The players are primed. In exactly one month, the Lions will kick off the first game of their gruelling 10-match tour of New Zealand.
For many, it’s a step into the unknown, as they embark on the challenge of taking on an entire rugby-mad nation.
Last time the representative team faced the All Blacks, they were comprehensively hammered in 2005. The hosts laid down an early marker and didn’t let up until the final whistle sounded in the third test.
Clive Woodward’s touring party were sent packing by a superior team. One member of the squad was Gordon D’Arcy, but the former Leinster and Ireland doesn’t feel that this year’s Lions should fear the All Blacks.
“It’s 15 vs 15 in three tests.
“If there is ever a good time to play New Zealand, this is it. I fully believe that. The inspirational players like Dan Carter and Richie McCaw have been replaced, but I’m not sure they [the replacements] are at the same level as those players were at that stage of their career.”
However, if the Lions are to stand a chance, they will need to lay down a marker in the first test.
“I fundamentally believe the Lions have to win the first test.
“If they win the first test, they will rock New Zealand. That will send everything going.
“If you put that type of pressure on New Zealand, you saw what happened when Ireland [beat the All Blacks in Chicago], the pressure was off them, they were coasting away and Ireland came in and beat them.
“Look at the way New Zealand played in that second test in Dublin. That was a team under pressure. That’s the environment the Lions have to create.”
You can listen to the full interview in the latest episode of the Oval Office podcast.
Gordon D’Arcy was speaking to Pundit Arena at #SportsMind2017.
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