Ex-England and Lions international Jeremy Guscott believes that the Lions could catch the All Blacks cold in the first test in June. In an interview with Rugby Paper, Guscott outlined the areas where he believes the Lions may be able to seize the initiative in the three-match series.
Despite the All Blacks only losing one match since their 2015 World Cup triumph, Guscott believes the team are experiencing a ‘stage of delayed impact’ from losing such established and experienced superstars like Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
He acknowledges that the All Black machine has and will inevitably churn out suitable replacements, but still fancies the Lions’ chances especially as he eyes potential combinations in the forward pack.
For Guscott, forward pack ferocity will be the key to victory:
“I look at the possible strength in that Lions pack and it can cause New Zealand problems with their mobility combined with powerful ball carriers. Man for man, the forward unit [coach Warren] Gatland puts together will more than match New Zealand and the key thing that intrigues me is how NZ cope with the Lions’ ferocity.
“They’ll come ready to play with an intensity this All Blacks side will not have faced. Ever.”
Guscott also circled the first test on June 24th at the All Blacks’ fortress Eden Park in Auckland as the moment to make a statement.
“They will be coming into the first test cold and if the Lions can bulldoze them up front, anything is possible.”
Some brave words considering the All Blacks have not lost a test at home since 2009, a sequence of 43 straight victories. The All Blacks’ record at Eden Park is even more daunting: a 36 match winning streak dating back to July 3rd 1994, the same year likely Lion Maro Itoje was born.
The All Blacks will also have a warm-up friendly against Manu Samoa leading into the first test so ‘lukewarm‘ rather than ‘cold‘ might be a more fitting description for the side.
Still, as we saw in Chicago last year, long-standing records are there to be broken and as a consequence, that All Black aura of invincibility will not be feared by this touring side.
Kaal Kaczmarek, Pundit Arena
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