Do Not Sell My Personal Information
ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump RugbyDump
Friday Jun 2, 2017

British and Irish Lions must prepare for All Blacks aerial threat

British and Irish Lions must prepare for All Blacks aerial threat

It’s business time as the Lions are in New Zealand ahead of their first match against the NZ Provincial Barbarians on Saturday, but one area the wingers may need to work on throughout the midweek matches is defending cross field kicks.

Warm up matches such as that of the Provincial Barbarians are the perfect opportunity for Warren Gatland to prepare his side for three tough Test matches. But one area the squad will be mindful of working on is defending cross field kicks, before they face New Zealand on 24 June.

All Blacks sides have traditionally played with intensity as well as organisation, but they also demonstrate flair. With the ever-elusive hooker Dane Coles, number eight Kieran Read’s offloading ability and most of all the skillset and kicking ability of fly half Beaden Barrett, the Lions will be facing a big challenge.

The Barrett Factor

Barrett, arguably the most in-form player in world rugby, made 30 kicks in his last four matches for New Zealand during the autumn international tour matches.

Obviously, some of these will have been clearing kicks, but in that case why is it that the two most likely candidates to start Test matches for the Lions at fly half, Owen Farrell and Jonathan Sexton, made just 16 between them?

It’s hard to believe that the All Blacks would have spent more time inside their own 22-meter line clearing the ball than England or Ireland.

Barrett’s current form in Super Rugby is undisputable and in 11 matches for the Hurricanes he has kicked the ball 116 times in open play. Again, this might not seem like an issue if it suggests possibly winning the ball back 116 times, but this means the Lions may have to receive a kick every seven and a half minutes.

OK, so what if Barrett isn’t picked for the Test matches? Well, Aaron Cruden made 21 open play kicks in his last five games for the All Blacks, which is again more than the combined efforts of Farrell and Sexton.

And given that the All Blacks have a reliable clearing method via the box kick of Aaron Smith, New Zealand will almost certainly use Barrett’s cross field kick as an attacking force in the three Test matches against the Lions.

So who do the Lions have in the squad to deal with this threat?

Just two wingers within the Lions squad are over six foot, but one luxury that Gatland has is that three of his selected wingers in the squad have experience playing full back and therefore a greater knowledge of defending kicks.

But with the likes of Julian Savea and Waisake Naholo potentially challenging in the air, will Gatland opt for the pace and agility of Jack Nowell and Tommy Seymour, or will he go for the presence of George North and full back experience of Anthony Watson and Liam Williams, or even Elliot Daly?

Gatland has chosen wingers Tommy Seymour and Anthony Watson to play against the NZ Provincial Barbarians on Saturday. It’s hard to tell whether his decision would be the same if players weren’t being rested after playing European and domestic finals with their clubs, but Gatland will certainly want to work hard with his back three in defence.

Besides, Gatland’s son Bryn is playing fly half for the Barbarians and will do anything he can to win one over his old man, maybe even with a few cross-field kicks.

It will be interesting to see which wingers are paired up by Gatland over the coming midweek games, but one thing for sure is they need to be prepared for the dangers posed by either of Barrett’s boots when the three Test matches come around.

New Zealand Provincial Barbarians vs British & Irish Lions kick off is at 19:35 local, or 8:35 UK time

ADVERTISEMENT

Related Articles

  • 188 WEEKS AGO

    The 2017 Lions tour documentary looks epic...

  • 196 WEEKS AGO

    The Impact of British and Irish Lions Tours...

  • 197 WEEKS AGO

    Jordie Barrett's casual booming dropgoal...



ADVERTISEMENT

Great Tries

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    Aaron Smith left red faced as speedy opposite number steals a bullet behind the line

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: Every Louis Rees-Zammit try in the Premiership so far

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Toulouse run the length to score awesome late try in Top 14 classic

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Wallabies legend Ashley-Cooper shows class in MLR with cheeky shoulder pass

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: Hogg collects his own 60-metre spiral kick to score amazing solo try

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

  • 12 HOURS AGO

    Brutal breakdown stamping in 2003 shows just how much the game has changed in two decades

  • 1 DAY AGO

    Matu'u bemused by his ban after footage shows latest unpunished Owen Farrell shot

  • 2 DAYS AGO

    Du Preez explains thought process after dominating prop in tip tackle that went wrong

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    Prop suspended for 3 weeks after flying shoulder makes contact square in the face

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    WATCH: Aaron Smith's captain's referral turned down after swinging arm collision

View All

See It To Believe It

  • 11 HOURS AGO

    WATCH: Brown further opens up on events leading to surprise Harlequins departure

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: JP Doyle puts MLR players in their place with authoritative return to refereeing

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    The most iconic pieces of rugby commentary in brilliant 7-minute montage

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    'It's part of our culture' says Haka performing South African university team

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Petrus du Plessis video of son's dominant scrum shows signs of potential future star

View All

Funnies

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: JP Doyle puts MLR players in their place with authoritative return to refereeing

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: Comedy gold as close range 'falcon' gifts Brumbies try in Super Rugby AU match

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Lions coaching staff announcement elicits some amused responses from fans

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Comedy gold as Toronto lock attempts clearance kick in MLR match featuring Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: 135kg prop lines up swan dive from 20 metres out... then re-thinks

View All

Amateur

  • 25 WEEKS AGO

    Viral video of Scottish club brawl goes down a storm with rugby community

  • 62 WEEKS AGO

    RUGBYDUMP BLITZ: This Best of the Week round up is sure to entertain you

  • 62 WEEKS AGO

    RD BLITZ - Disaster, just when it looked so promising...

  • 62 WEEKS AGO

    That glorious moment that will live on forever, like it or not

  • 62 WEEKS AGO

    RD Blitz - PROP'S Lionel Messi wizardy creates incredible try

View All

Player Features

  • 8 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Bumping off tacklers and taking high balls, Rob Kearney had an impressive Super Rugby debut

  • 14 WEEKS AGO

    Brian Moore on money in modern rugby and how it should never be compared to 'outlier' football

  • 15 WEEKS AGO

    Tuisova's wrecking ball montage will make you grateful you never made it as a pro

  • 21 WEEKS AGO

    New Zealand rugby pod admit Owen Farrell is world class

  • 22 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Bath prop launches Amazon documentary focused on those from non-traditional backgrounds

View All
British and Irish Lions must prepare for All Blacks aerial threat | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos