Welcome to New Zealand!

Before the game earlier today Clayton McMillan, the coach of the Provincial Barbarians said –

“We have to give the Lions a good old-fashioned welcome to New Zealand, a bit of a ‘tickle-up’, because it’s only going to get bigger, badder, faster and more organised for them after us.

“We’re going to keep things simple, have a crack, and stay true to the Barbarians style. We don’t want to play a game that’s comfortable for the Lions.

Well, they did that alright – in spades.

I said yesterday that jet lag would be a factor – but it couldn’t have been the only thing that made a team full of internationals come close to an embarrassing defeat.

If anyone was unsure of the depth of New Zealand rugby they will certainly have no doubts now.

McMillan was also right when he said it was only going to get harder for the tourists – the NZ Super Rugby franchises have dominated the competition and in the next 7 days the Lions will take on the first two – The Blues on Wednesday and the unbeaten Crusaders next Saturday.

Anyone who watched the game between the Crusaders and Highlanders early this morning will know the step up the Lions have to make – it will not be easy.

At least the Lions should have gotten over most of the jet lag.

Most players will only get a couple of games and maybe a run on off the bench to stake their claim for a test spot – not many put their hand up this morning.

The biggest worry I felt was the lack of domination in the scrum and at the lineout – I expected the set piece to lay the foundation for a win of more than 30 points (my lamentable prediction).

I can’t remember us getting a penalty from the scrum and the only lineout steal came from George Kruis when he arrived off the bench.

The fact is however – it was a win and the Lions will get better – a lot better.

But there was nothing today that will be keeping Steve Hansen awake at night. Any insomnia will relate to the injuries in the ABs squad – which he will be naming on Tuesday!



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