The All Blacks need to nullify the Lions pack and counter their rush defence, according to the only man who has coached both teams.

Sir Graham Henry is observing the tour courtesy of New Zealand Rugby sponsor AIG. He will be speaking at a breakfast entitled "Raising Your Game" on Tuesday alongside rugby glitterati such as All Black captains Richie McCaw and Sean Fitzpatrick, World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward and former Black Ferns captain Dr Farah Palmer. The theme is about finding ways high performance sport relates to business.

Henry told the Herald that fans will witness the "two best teams in the world" in the first test on Saturday at Eden Park.

"The Lions have an impressively fast defensive line which could cut down the All Blacks' opportunities to go wide.


"New Zealand need a decent platform up front so they can function from first-phase ball. If they do that, it's going to be hard to defend against. That's what they did against Samoa.

Henry said the contest holds intrigue because of the contrasting styles.

"These teams have generally both grown up controlled by different environments, like how they were coached and the weather conditions. Some recent European sides have tried to play like the All Blacks and they end up coming second.

"The All Blacks hold a huge advantage because they play together more than the Lions, but the tourists have got better as they have gone along. They see more of each other on the club scene these days compared with 20 years ago."

Henry said a key point of difference might decide the series like the All Blacks' ability to offload, or the Lions' physicality in the tight.

"One moment which stood out on tour so far was Sonny Bill Williams' pass to set Ihaia West free for his try which helped the Blues win. That was sheer brilliance.

"Likewise, the Lions' strength, particularly against the Chiefs, stopped quick ball at the breakdown.

"It comes back to the set piece. The All Blacks need a platform which enables them to take the ball over the advantage line so the Lions are constantly running back. Alternatively, life could be made difficult if they are forced to generate momentum from a standing start, while staring at 15 red jerseys."


*Tickets for the Raising Your Games breakfast can be purchased for $99 from