Gareth Thomas has opened up on the last time the Lions went down under to face the All Blacks, in the infamous 2005 whitewash.
Warren Gatland’s 41-man squad will be looking to do what Clive Woodward’s couldn’t twelve years ago, in which New Zealand showed no mercy in dispatching the Lions in all three of their tests.
Thomas, who was promoted to captain in the wake of Brian O’Driscoll’s neck injury just minutes into the first test, has been discussing that tour and why comparisons cannot be drawn between the 2005 setup and the current one.
Speaking on New Zealand-based show The Crowd Goes Wild, the former Welsh international back gave the opinion that the squad in 2005 were not ready mentally for the challenge posed by the All Blacks:
“If I could [compare the two tours] then this squad in 2017 would be screwed.
“In 2005 you had Clive Woodward and Alistair Campbell coming on tour. We had spin doctors and it was a different time.
“With Gatland coming here he knows the New Zealand ethos and he understands it. He’s picked a team that I think will come here and be mentally prepared. We picked a team that came here physically prepared and perhaps tactically prepared but nowhere near mentally prepared.
“I was thinking in the second Test in 2005, we’ve got this in the bag and then looking at the scoreboard on 80 minutes and seeing nearly 50 points on it.
“The New Zealand team that year, I don’t think there’s a team on the planet that would have got close to them. In that second Test Dan Carter won it on his own. They had players right on their form that coped under pressure.
“I didn’t realise how big a Lions tour in New Zealand was, not just for the rugby public, but as a country. Everywhere we went there was symbols that New Zealand as country were going to beat you. Not the team, as a country you were going to lose and that was a strange old feeling.
“In a cafe you were being served by this lovely polite woman who would grunt and growl as you as she was giving you a coffee. She wanted you to be uncomfortable.”
Thomas played in all three Lions tests gainst the All Blacks but was unable to prevent the hosts from winning all three of them. The first test ended 21-3 to the home side, with scores of 48-18 and 38-19 occurring in the remaining two.
Indeed, of the 38 times they have faced the All Blacks they have won just six, with the last coming in 1993.
Thomas’ full segment can be viewed below:
h/t to WalesOnline
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