If I was Lions coach Warren Gatland preparing for the tour of New Zealand, I'd be praying for a six-to-eight-week weather bomb and perhaps bring a rain dancer with me just to be safe.

It's clear that the weather goes a huge way towards negating running rugby - we saw it at Waikato Stadium when the Chiefs coped with the atrocious conditions better than the Hurricanes, and we saw it at Eden Park when the Hurricanes outlasted an off-colour Blues.

New Zealand teams want to play with speed, power and ferocity, and if they can't do that, they often don't cope well, as the weekend's Super Rugby action indicated.

If it rains before and during the first test between the All Blacks and Lions at Eden Park, I reckon Gatland will be one of the happiest men on the planet.


It's fair to say the New Zealand derbies didn't live up to expectations. Both matches featured an atrocious number of handling errors and turnovers and it surprised me how much kicking there was from teams that usually prefer to use the ball.

The Lions will be super competitive, as the Six Nations shows. The Wales v Ireland test was a beauty, with both teams using the ball, and we've seen what England can do in demolishing Scotland.

In the United Kingdom, they are more used to playing in difficult conditions than us, and they have big forwards who can play a more structured style without being too ambitious and making errors.

In other words, we still try to play an expansive style no matter what, and at the weekend, it was our big men making the mistakes. They weren't prepared to take the contact and recycle the ball, and that makes things worse.

Watch out if we get some wet weather in June and July because the Lions, knowing there's no test under a roof, will relish the opportunity. I remember having a coffee in T-shirt and shorts before the All Blacks test against the Lions in Christchurch in 2005. It was a beautiful, warm afternoon but two hours later, a freezing southerly hit and we had to change our entire game plan.

The Chiefs were far better in the conditions at the weekend, possibly because they were more battle hardened. The Hurricanes scored a mountain of points against the Sunwolves and Rebels but didn't need to knuckle down in either match and against a good opponent, they didn't have that required discipline.

I was feeling reasonably positive about the Blues' chances but I'm not so sure any more. I know that sounds brutal but after their loss to the Highlanders, I just can't see how they can turn things around.

They will welcome back Sonny Bill Williams from injury, but one player's not going to do it.


For all the Highlanders' resilience, they didn't offer a great deal. The Blues gave them everything.

Tony Brown will want to tick the box and move on quickly, but his Blues counterpart Tana Umaga should be really concerned.

A last word on the Crusaders after they got out of jail for a second week, this time in Brisbane. They proved again they're never out of games and I had a feeling that even at 20-7 to the Reds, they could still come back.

Reds coach Nick Stiles said afterwards they seemed to be waiting for the Crusaders' comeback, and that's a huge psychological weapon.