View from New Zealand

In a post yesterday I talked about Gatland and a possible conspiracy theory – at least one NZ writer (Mark Reason) seems to be thinking along similar lines –

Gatland – “My job is to win a test series and I will do whatever it takes to do that.”

Warren Gatland is home. The Lions coach is over his jet lag and is finally talking like a Kiwi again. He doesn’t give a stuff about the Lions, at least not deep down, not in the part of his soul that still wanders the banks of the mighty Waikato. Gatland cares about winning.

The press conference that Gatland gave after his team flattened the Maori was perhaps the most impressive of his career. I guess the victory provided a bone to distract his more canine tendencies. The bogan attack dog did not feel the need to defend his territory. 

Gregor Paul who is far less myopic than most had a slightly different view on Gatland’s gamble –

The Lions are here to win the test series – a point they have laboured since their arrival. Could they seriously believe that if they were asking a handful of test starters to back up on the bench this Tuesday against the Chiefs, that they would be giving themselves the best chance to topple the All Blacks at Eden Park?

The logic stacks up but the execution of this plan has been handled with the same sort of lack of finesse with which the Lions play.

Calling up more cavalry is fine, but on Saturday, Gatland will ask 23 of Britain and Ireland’s best players to play for a jersey that he has casually handed to five men who have categorically not earned the right to wear it.

Writing again today Paul said –

This tour was going to be about embracing hinterland communities, throwing the kitchen sink at the midweek games and keeping the door open to test selection until the last possible minute.

All that is starting to feel like a false promise and the Lions could just as easily have come with 30 players at the start of last week, played the New Zealand Maori as a warm up and then got into the tests.

It’s difficult to believe in the wake of the decision to call up six extra players over the weekend that the Lions are being respectful to their own rich and wonderful legacy.

They are being a little disrespectful to the spirit of the tour – that expectation sits heavily with the Lions wherever they go. They must accept that whoever they play, for the blokes in the opposition changing room, it will be one of the biggest nights of their lives.

The Chiefs may not feel that now the Lions have loaded the bench in Hamilton with five of the players they called up over the weekend.

The whole article is worth reading.

It all comes down to Saturday in my view – the Lions have to win – only one Lions team have won a series after going down in the first test (Finlay Calder’s 1989 Lions in Australia)

The All Blacks history at Eden Park is against the Lions this Saturday.


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