Mains predicting All Blacks will whitewash Lions

Laurie Mains
Laurie Mains
Former All Black coach Laurie Mains is picking a 3-0 series win to the All Blacks over the British and Irish Lions.

Mains, who coached the All Blacks to a 2-1 series win over the Lions in 1993, said he had a lot of time for the side's coach Warren Gatland and captain Sam Warburton.

But the tough itinerary the team faced and the limited time it had together meant it was facing a huge task, Mains said.

``They have some very talented players and for Warren it is not his first time he has done this and it is also not the first time for Sam Warburton,'' Mains said.

``If they can gel as a team and all the players get in the right psychological frame of mind, then they have a chance.

``But that is not going to be easy to do.''

He said Lions teams which had performed well had the advantage of having some time together before the first test came around.

``These guys will not have played together for three to four years. You look at the tour in 1971, when they had success. They had something like 10 to 11 games together as a team before the first test.

``But this side is going to find it incredibly hard to come together and be ready for the first test, as they won't have played together for long enough.''

The tour starts on June 3 and the first test at Eden Park will be played on June 24, just three weeks later.

The Lions picked the itinerary along with New Zealand Rugby but Mains said in reality the visiting side had little choice but to agree to a tour which includes three tests, five matches against the Super Rugby franchises and also a game against the New Zealand Maori.

The tour kicks off with a match against a New Zealand Barbarians side in Whangarei.

``They had no option but to accept the itinerary, really. Of course, they would have wanted to play more lead-up games before the first test but this is professional sport. You can't get access to the players. The clubs don't release them.

``It used to be the home team didn't get the players to a few days before the game. We used to get them on the Tuesday night before the test. Now that has all changed and the home side has the time to get together and train together.

``The All Blacks play plenty of games together every year, not like the Lions.''

Mains said in the end he was picking a whitewash by the All Blacks as they had an astonishing crop of players at the moment and a tremendous culture within the team.

``At the moment, we just have so much depth in every position. One guy goes down and someone will just come straight in and there will be no change.

``This side has an outstanding culture, one of the best I've ever seen. Just think of all the games they've played when they have been in trouble or been under pressure for the first 60 minutes.

``Then in the final 20 minutes, quarter of an hour, they just pull away.''

Mains also picked the Lions would be whitewashed when they last visited 12 years ago.

Mains said for the sake of world rugby he hoped the Lions would continue, no matter the result this year.

``It is still an important part of world rugby. It just needs to be looked at how they build up to these tours.''

 

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