In what has been a poor start for the British and Irish Lions, the Northern Hemisphere fans do not have a lot of reason to feel positive heading into tough fixtures against the Super Rugby sides, and then the big three against the All Blacks.
The touring side have yet to look dominant during any periods of the games against the Provincial Barbarians, or the Blues; a lack of cutting edge, sloppy mistakes, and zero control of either game has left many fearing of not just a series whitewash at the hands of the All Blacks, but also a hammering from the likes of the Crusaders and the Chiefs.
With the Crusaders recently stretching their winning streak to 14, with a 25-22 victory over the Highlanders last weekend, the Super Rugby side go into the Lions test this weekend as the favourites.
The Crusaders boast nine All Blacks in their side, which has already led to Lions head coach, Warren Gatland, scrummaging around for excuses and looking for a scapegoat by complimenting the strength of Super Rugby:
“There is so much strength in depth in this country,
I don’t think there will be a lot of difference between some of the Super Rugby sides and the All Blacks.
These guys have been together seven months and the All Blacks will be coming together cold.”
— Warren Gatland
Such compliments has led Gatland naming a very strong XV to face the Crusaders, with his trusted Welshman, Alun Wyn Jones, taking up the skipper duty:
Backs: 15 – Stuart Hogg; 14 – George North, 13 – Jonathan Davies, 12 – Ben Te’o, 11 – Liam Williams; 10 – Own Farrell, 9 – Conor Murray.
Forwards: 1 – Mako Vunipola, 2 – Jamie George, 3 – Tadhg Furlong; 4 – Alun Wyn Jones Jones (capt), 5 – George Kruis; 6 – Peter O’Mahony, 7 – Sean O’Brien, 8 – Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Dan Cole, Maro Itoje, CJ Stander, Rhys Webb, Jonny Sexton, Anthony Watson.
In what is a powerful looking Welsh contingent, with both Davies and North making their first starting tests this tour, Gatland will be hoping a lot of familiar faces from the 2013 Australia victory can turn the Lions’ fortunes around.
It will only be a more daunting challenge taking on the Crusaders this coming weekend; if the touring side play the same predictable patters, and continue with poor discipline, the Northern Hemisphere side could away with more embarrassment this coming weekend.