British and Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand Preview

Overview-of-2017-Birtish-and-Irish-Lions-Tour-of-New-Zealand
The much-anticipated British and Irish Lions Tour gets underway this coming weekend. Our rugby scribe takes a look at what the tourists are in for in ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’.

Rugby fans are about to experience oval ball nirvana with the British and Irish Lions set to get their long-awaited tour of New Zealand underway with a clash against the New Zealand Barbarians. It’s quite a nice start for Warren Gatland’s men who will face much trickier assignments in the coming weeks, including dates with all of the Kiwi Super Rugby franchises as well as the main attractions; A three-match Test series against Steve Hansen’s mesmerising All Blacks and a grudge match against the New Zealand Maori.

While the Lions have been hard at work prepping for their arduous trip to New Zealand, our rugby writer reckons he’s put in even more hard yards than Gatland’s men. Although, his training regime consists of trolling the internet with a six pack of beer at hand rather than a few gym sessions and some hill runs.

Lions' Tour Schedule
Provincial Barbarians | Saturday 3 June | Toll Stadium | 09:35
Auckland Blues | Wednesday 7 June | Eden Park | 09:35
Canterbury Crusaders | Saturday 10 June | AMI Stadium | 09:35
Otago Highlanders | Wednesday 17 June Forsyth Barr | 09:35
Maori All Blacks | Saturday 20 June | Rotorua International Stadium | 09:35
Waikato Chiefs | Wednesday 23 June | FMG Stadium Waikato | 09:35
1st Test | Saturday 24 June | Eden Park | 09:35
Wellington Hurricanes | Wednesday 24 June | Westpac Stadium | 09:35
2nd Test | Saturday 1 July | Westpac Stadium | 09:35
3rd Test | Saturday 8 July | Eden Park | 09:35

Likely British and Irish Lions Midweek Games Starting XV
1, Jack McGrath 2. Ken Owens 3. Kyle Sinckler 4. Maro Itoje 5. George Kruis 6. Sean O 9. ’Brien 7. Justin Tipiric 8. Peter O’Mahony 9. Rhys Webb 10. Dan Biggar 11. Jack Nowell 12. Ben Teo 13. Jonathon Davies 14. Tommy Seymour 15. Lee Halfpenny

Lions' Midweek Fixtures Analysis
Okay, for the sake of this piece we will consider all of the non-Test fixtures to be midweek fixtures. The Lions face some tricky ties here including dates with the New Zealand Maori, who beat them when they last toured, and fixtures against all the New Zealand Super Rugby franchises. Their opening game against the Provincial Barbarians should be the easiest of all, although you can bet your bottom dollar that the likes of Bryn Gatland, who is the son of Lions coach Warren, and his fellow Barbarians will be giving it horns this coming Saturday.

The Lions midweek team should take the honours in the opener by a rather comfortable margin but their second tour fixture against the Blues will be a much tougher test as the Aucklanders will only lose a handful of players to the New Zealand Test set-up. Some of these players may actually be afforded the opportunity to take on the Lions in franchise colours as Reiko Ioane, Charlie Faumunia and Patrick Tuipolotu are not guaranteed All Black starting berths. Thus, All Black coach Steve Hansen could allow the aforementioned men to stay on with their franchise which would make the Blues a tricky obstacle to overcome for the midweek Lions side.

The Lions' next fixture is against the Crusaders who will lose a lot more players to the All Black squad than the Blues. The ‘Saders are likely to be missing the majority of their forward pack as well as utility back Israel Dagg. They will still pose a threat, however, with the likes of Richie Moaga and David Havili sure to test the midweek Lions defence throughout the 80-minute encounter.

We then move onto the Highlanders who, like the Crusaders, will be missing a plethora of their stalwarts come this fixture. This game should be second easiest for the Lions and comes at exactly the right time as they have a date with the Maori three days after their Waikato assignment.

While the three-Tests are the games that everyone is looking forward to, my personal pick is the Maori fixture. I’m a huge fan of the Maori side and the attitude they take into their games. This fixture could prove to be a costly one for the Lions - even if they do get the win - as the Maori are heavy hitters who take a no-holds-bar approach to these fixtures, which could leave a few Lions nursing some serious injuries.  The Lions could also field a few members of their Test side here so as to ensure there is no rust come the first Test, which takes place a week after this fixture.

The Lions then take on the Chiefs three days after their date with the Maori. And with the Chiefs likely to field a very young side, this could be an ideal time for Gatland to give some of the younger members of his squad a full 80-minutes.

The final midweek game will be three days after the conclusion of the first Test and will see the Lions take on what should be a much-depleted Hurricanes side. Don’t write off the ‘Canes chances though as their side could still contain Super Rugby’s most electric centre pairing as well as the mercurial Jordie Barrett.

Darry’s Midweek Predictions
I've had a quick glance at the overseas bookmakers' handicaps and they look a bit off. And if the local bookies follow suit, we could be in for a rather profitable few weeks.

There are also rather large variances in different foreign bookies' pricesso I won’t be tipping in the standard handicap style as I’m trying to cover all the ‘caps I’ve seen.

B&I Lions v Provincial Barbarians – Lions by more than 35
B&I Lions v Auckland Blues – Lions by fewer than 8
B&I Lions v Crusaders – Lions by more than 12
B&I Lions v Highlanders – Lions by 13 or more 
B&I v Maori All Blacks – Maori Win
B&I Lions v Chiefs – Lions by more than 10
B&I Lions v Hurricanes – Surprise Hurricanes Win (Taking the plus is advised, however)

Likely British and Irish Lions Squad for The First Test
1. Mako Vunipoala 2. Ken Owens 3. Tadgh Furlong 4. Alun Wyn Jones 5. Iain Henderson 6. CJ Stander 7. Sam Warburton 8. Taulupe Faletau 9. Connor Murray 10. Jonathon Sexton 11.George North 12. Owen Farrell 13. Robbie Henshaw 14. Liam Williams 15. Stuart Hogg 

16. Rory Best 17. Jack McGrath 18. Dane Cole 19. Maro Itoje 20. Sean O’ Brien 21. Rhys Webb 22. Jonathon Davies 23. Lee Halfpenny

Likely All Blacks Squad for The First Test
1. Joe Moody 2. Dane Coles 3. Owen Franks 4. Brodie Rettalick 5. Sam Whitelock 6. Jerome Kaino (*If fit) 7. Sam Cane 8. Kieran Read 9. TJ Rerenara 10. Beauden Barrett 11. Julian Savea 12. Ryan Crotty 13. Anton Lienhart-Brown 14. Waisake Naholo 15. Ben Smith 

16. James Parsons 17. Charlie Faumunia 18. Wyatt Crockett 19. Patrick Tuipolotu 20. Ardie Savea 21. Aaron Smith 22. Lima Sopaga 23. Israel Dagg


Betting 

Outright Series Winner
New Zealand 2/11 | Draw 25/1 | B&I 7/2

Correct Series Score
New Zealand 3-0 (15/20) | New Zealand 2-1 (19/10) | New Zealand 1-0 (250/1) B&I Lions 2-1 (11/2) | B&I Lions 3-0 (25/1) | B&I Lions 2-0 (66/1) | B&I Lions 1-0 (400/1) | Drawn Series 25/1 

To Win First Test (80 Mins)
New Zealand 1/4 | Draw 25/1 | B&I Lions 28/10
Handicap
New Zealand (-8.5) 9/10 | B&I Lions (+8.5) 9/10

Correct Series Score Verdict: New Zealand 3-0

I’m not going to go analyse the All Black squad just yet as there’s still a round of Super Rugby to go as well as a warm-up fixture against Samoa. I’ve run the rule over Gatland’s Lions squad though, and I honestly think the veteran coach has missed a trick or two. He’s brought some ageing veterans along whose bodies simply cannot handle a month long tour anymore. He’s also left out some brilliant youngsters I.E Gary Ringrose.

As soon as Hansen heard the Lions squad announcement he would have known the Lions were coming to play a tight, territorial-based game which is bread and butter for the All Blacks. 


Despite the Lions having some talented individuals on their books, I can’t see them getting one over the All Blacks. Their only hope is for the weather gods to unleash a deluge during one of the Auckland Tests and for the Kiwi’s to lose their discipline and give away a few cards and a number of penalties. While the weather gods may play ball, the All Blacks are unlikely to lose their heads - Get on on the 3-0 All Blacks Correct Series Score at 15/20.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net!

Bet on this series now at Hollywoodbets.net! Haven’t got an account? Open one here!

Hollywoodbets-Sign-Up-Now-Banner-With-Link -To Account-Registration-Page

No comments:

Post a Comment

Give us your thoughts on our preview!