The Lions coach has come in for criticism in his homeland yet knows his side must resist the All Blacks’ attempts to provoke an open game in the first Test
History, ancient and modern, points to the Lions being outroared by New Zealand. The All Blacks warmed up for the series by amassing 78 points and 12 tries against Samoa. When asked what the Lions would need in Saturday’s first Test, the Samoa captain, Kahn Fotuali’i, replied: “Luck.”
As well as tries, luck has largely eluded them so far. The loss of the No8 Billy Vunipola before the tour was compounded by the thigh injury suffered by Owen Farrell in training, a Lion the All Blacks would find space for. It would be no surprise if Warren Gatland gave Farrell until the day of the game to prove his fitness, even if his chances of playing were minimal, to make New Zealand prepare for two different teams.