ROB PENNEY GIVES us his New Zealander perspective on the Lions’ chances down under…
Munster Haka have contacted a group of former Munster players and coaches from Ireland & New Zealand about taking part in a Lions Series preview in anticipation of the first game against the Provincial Barbarians next Saturday morning.
We will be bringing you the experts’ one-word answers through the week on our Facebook page, but one man who went well and beyond was former head coach Rob Penney. Rob has offered his opinions in particularly good detail and there’s therefore no better way to launch ‘Lions Week’ than with a piece from the two-time Heineken Cup semi-finalist.
What is your predicted test series scoreline?
All Blacks, three nil. This is a massive occasion for the AB’s, Lions tours are probably now the pinnacle for the players outside of the World Cup. There will be no lack of motivation. Key players will be fresh with injury induced time out while the Lions will get battered by the Super Rugby and Maori teams too. It really is a very tough schedule they have agreed to.
What players do you think can make the biggest impact?
Both teams are stacked with wonderful rugby talent. For the All Blacks, Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Kieran Read, Ben Smith and Codie Taylor. While from the Lions I see key members being Murray, Henderson, Payne; Itoje, Vunipola, Joseph; Tipuric, Davies, North, Halfpenny and Hogg.
Should the Lions be prepared for a particular surprise package from the All Blacks? Who’s the one to watch?
The Hurricanes’ Ardie Savea, or Sam Whitelock playing as a 6!
What do you see as the biggest threat to the Lions?
The biggest treat to the Lions is the toughness of the schedule and their ability to adapt to the attacking style and individual brilliance of the All Blacks. However, the Lions may be assisted to some degree by the weather at this time of year – the wetter it is, the closer the games will be. Goal kicking will also play a major factor, the Lions may have the edge here but pressure does funny things to players!
NZ is very excited by this event, it will be an amazing month of class rugby being played every few days. If you are a “rugby head” the Lions tours are as good as they get now. Visitors to NZ will be very warmly welcomed. The banter will be top class. If the fans can leave the pubs for a while, they will get to see a lot of an amazing little country.
Welcome and all the very best. Go the AB’s!