O'Driscoll: Lions need to make All Blacks look human

They tour New Zealand this summer

BY Simon Maguire 11:33 Monday 20 February 2017, 11:33 20 Feb 2017

New Zealand's Beauden Barrett dejected after the game. Image: ©INPHO/Photosport/Andrew Cornaga

Former Ireland and Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll believes this summer's tourists need to make New Zealand look human if they are to win the test series.

Speaking to The Rugby Paper, he outlined how Ireland's win in Chicago was based on breaking up their first phase play and suggested the tourists do the same, saying: "It's a good way to start breaking their play up. Secondly, the pressure you exert in defence to make them cough up unforced errors, which is unlike them, comes from expectation of the hit coming."

New Zealand All Blacks’s Ben Smith is tackled by Ireland’s Devin Toner and Jack McGrath
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Speaking on what he sees as the skills gap between the hemispheres closing, he said: "A big aspect is the interplay between forwards and backs – the ball-handling of the tight five has really improved in the northern hemisphere.

"If I was to pinpoint one thing from the 2015 World Cup until now that differentiates, it is that the skill levels in all four teams in the front five has improved. I don't know if that's been a conscious thing, but it's been apparent to me," he added.

The last time the Lions toured New Zealand in 2005, they were comprehensively beaten by the hosts. Despite Wales winning the 2005 Six Nations Grand Slam, the touring squad selected by Clive Woodward was dominated by England players and staff.

Byron Kelleher performs the Haka. inpho: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Speaking on the importance of picking a roster of players in form, O'Driscoll said: "Scotland look as if they have two or three guys who would be in the Test 23 if you were picking the team now. Wales, after a disappointing six months, have upped their game and have some players playing very well, in particular their back row, and their centres look as if they are back on form. So, there are going to be some major selection issues for Gats all right."

The tour kicks off on June 3rd when the Lions play a provincial selection.


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