ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump
REGISTER
LOGIN
ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump
Friday Jun 2, 2017

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

  • 245 WEEKS AGO

    The 2017 Lions tour documentary looks epic...

  • 252 WEEKS AGO

    The Impact of British and Irish Lions Tours...

  • 254 WEEKS AGO

    Jordie Barrett's casual booming dropgoal...



ADVERTISEMENT

Great Tries

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Watch: Blues score two STUNNING tries against Queensland Reds

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Racing 92 know how play ‘GORGEOUS’ rugby

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Teddy Thomas rinses defence with BLISTERING pace

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Every Ulster try scored in Europe this season..and it’s glorious!

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Fijian Drua show RIDICULOUS skillset and can score from anywhere

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    Fans outraged after shocking Owen Farrell moment

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: Big Rugby Collision In South African Schools Match

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    WATCH: Sickening Shot Leaves Motionless

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Hardest hit of all time

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Duhan Van der Merwe makes INCREDIBLE try saving tackle

View All

See It To Believe It

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Hooker scores masterful try

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Tadhg Furlong produces one of the best ever passes by a forward

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Hardest hit of all time

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Leicester Tigers respond to hilarious fan incident

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Thrilling clash between Munster and Toulouse settled by a place kick shootout

View All

Funnies

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    WATCH: First It Was BoJo Now It's ScoMo

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Dad and 7 sons in Ireland forward pack

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Shocking mistake by Brumbies fullback prevents a certain try

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Ellis Genge hits back at Brian Moore

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Rugby was too violent, says UFC legend

View All

Amateur

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Watch: Epic Speech Epitomises Rugby Values

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Epic touchline conversion from Tighthead seals the deal

  • 14 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Veteran props compared to Tadhg Furlong in new viral video

  • 81 WEEKS AGO

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

  • 118 WEEKS AGO

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

View All

Player Features

  • 18 HOURS AGO

    James Haskell sends twitter into another meltdown

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Harlequins full-back to leave at the end of the season

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Fans shocked after some huge recalls in the England squad

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Huge opportunity for young prodigy

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    All Black World Cup winners teaming up in the USA

View All