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Three Brilliant But Different Backlines The All Blacks Could Select For The Lions Tour

SWANSEA, WALES - OCTOBER 15: (L-R) Nehe Milner-Skudder, Sonny Bill Williams and Beauden Barrett of the All Blacks during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Swansea University on October 15, 2015 in Swansea, United Kingdom. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Lions are coming, the drumbeat is growing louder and with every All Blacks win the stakes rise for next year’s tour.

Here¬†we open the treasure chest of backline riches at Steve Hansen’s disposal and select three possible exciting 9-15 combinations.


3. Speed

The All Blacks are no lumbering brutes. One of their key weapons is the counter-attack and the need for speed of feet and mind is paramount. With this in mind, we present a backline of cheetahs to run the Lions off their feet.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 25: Rieko Ioane during the New Zealand All Blacks training session at Westpac Stadium on August 25, 2016 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)

This backline has a nice mix of youth and experience, with the electric Hurricanes combination of Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara to set it alight.

15. Ben Smith

14. Waisake Naholo

13. Rieko Ioane

12. Anton Lienert-Brown

11. Israel Dagg

10. Beauden Barrett

9. TJ Perenara


2. Skills

Offload, chip kick, sidestep, feint, score. There are many magicians in New Zealand rugby who could feature in this backline but we think this one could leave the Lions tackling thin air.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 23: Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs during the Super Rugby Quarter Final match between the DHL Stormers and Chiefs at DHL Newlands on July 23, 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Luke Walker/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Featuring Damian McKenzie, NMS and SBW, this backline would be box office gold and would conjure up moves that would leave the Globetrotters green with envy. Its only weakness is a predilection for injury.

15. Damian McKenzie

14. Nehe Milner-Scudder

13. Ryan Crotty

12. Sonny Bill Williams

11. James Lowe

10. Aaron Cruden

9. Aaron Smith


1. Power

This is the backline that might make the Lions pee a little when facing the Haka. We realise that Akira Ioane is a loose forward, but after watching highlights of his scintillating speed for Auckland in the ITM Cup, we think he might make a Jonah Lomu-like success of a transition to wing.

Melani Nanai has mostly relied on speed in his career so far, but he’s got the build and power of Folau. Moala and Fekitoa make up a bruising midfield and Julian Savea rounds off the power packed Pacific Island influence.

15. Melani Nanai

14. Akira Ioane

13. George Moala

12. Malakai Fekitoa

11. Julian Savea

10. Lima Sopoaga

9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow


So if you were in Steve Hansen’s esteemed shoes, which backline would you select to face the Lions?

Speed, skills or power?

Kaal Kaczmarek, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.