Rugby: Nick Evans - Lions will have goalkicking edge over All Blacks

Beauden Barrett kicks a conversion for the All Blacks. Photo / Getty
Beauden Barrett kicks a conversion for the All Blacks. Photo / Getty

Former All Blacks first-five Nick Evans says the British and Irish Lions will have an edge with their kicking game, particularly at goal, during the three-test tour of New Zealand.

But the player who has been at Harlequins for nine years and has only two more games for the London club before he hangs up his boots for good, said the All Blacks have a far superior running game, and that is likely to be where they make the tourists pay.

Evans told the Radio Sport Breakfast show today that the kicking games of Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell were excellent, and that the Lions would use those skills and their solid set piece to attempt to build pressure on the All Blacks, but he was doubtful they had the quality to finish off the few attacking opportunities they will get.

"It's a big team, they've got a big forward pack, a very strong forward pack; a good set piece, lineout and maul time," Evans said. "The Super Rugby that I have watched it seems to me that the New Zealand teams are struggling against defending the rolling maul.

A lot of rolling maul tries have been scored.

"This team will - if the All Blacks are ill disciplined - kick to the corner and they will have a very strong set piece especially at maul time.

"The backs are big as well, a couple of big centres in particular - Kiwi-born Ben Te'o and Robbie Henshaw as well... they will be heading down that No10 channel, down Beauden Barrett's channel."

Asked about Barrett's goalkicking, an issue as far as Lions coach Warren Gatland is concerned but not for his opposite Steve Hansen, Evans said: "If you look at someone like Beauden Barrett [he's] unbelievable, probably the best in the world with ball in hand, but he's not kicking goals.

"[Damian] McKenzie is kicking most of the goals for the Chiefs. Jordie Barrett - is he going to be in the team? He's kicking the goals [for Hurricanes]. So if it comes down to a goalkicking competition, at the moment I think the Lions have got the edge."

Evans added of the Lions attacking potential: "Do they have the ability to create the opportunities and then have the quality to ... finish them off? Against the All Blacks I think they will only get three or four opportunities a game. Do they have the ability to nail two or three of those? I don't see that.

"I think they will revert back to type with a big forward pack and hitting down the centre with their big centres."

Evans said the Lions would aim to out-muscle the All Blacks at the breakdown, but Hansen's side have the physicality and ability to match them there and slow their ball.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 30 May 2017 05:20:49 Processing Time: 515ms