Former Lion not convinced by Gatland’s changes

Maro Itoje leaves the field after the first test against the All Blacks
Maro Itoje leaves the field after the first test against the All Blacks
Luke Barfoot will make his 100th league appearance. Picture: Neil Marshall

Havant hope normal service will resume at home

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Former British & Irish Lions forward Derek White, who now lives in Horndean, previews the second test...

It is cup-final time for the British & Irish Lions and as far as the series is concerned it is win or bust.

The Lions have a mountain to climb in what is bound to be a very tense game.

If they are to stand any chance of reversing their fortunes the forwards have to provide some front-foot ball to release their very talented backs.

They showed glimpses of it in the first game but not for long enough to put the All Blacks forwards under any real pressure.

There was not enough power up front, the Lions did not secure enough ball and what ball they did get was poorly controlled.

It is going to take a huge effort to build a platform that will allow the backs to express themselves.

The team Warren Gatland has selected looks like that is the aim.

I am not sure his selection will enable them to do it, though.

Bringing Maro Itoje in is a positive move. He should have been in from the start.

I would question, however, whether he has replaced the right person with George Kruis being dropped.

Alun Wyn Jones looked tired last week and I would prefer to see Iain Henderson or Courtney Lawes in there.

Henderson had a terrific game in midweek until he blotted his copybook by getting sin-binned.

In his absence, the Hurricanes scored two tries as they forced a draw.

Bringing Sam Warburton in for Peter O’Mahoney might give the Lions a bigger physical presence at the breakdown.

This was a problem area in the first game and the pack as whole will need to be physically stronger.

The big surprise in the backs is the omission of Ben Te’o who had a great game in the first test, taming Sonny Bill Williams.

Williams had his best spell in the game after Te’o went off.

I am not sure moving Owen Farrell to centre and bringing Johnny Sexton in at outside half is the right move.

The change didn’t work when they did it in the second half of the first game.

Williams will target Farrell who will need to be right at the top of his game defensively.

What the All Blacks do best is their game management and there are aspects of their game they are yet to unleash.

They set about laying the foundations, getting the fundamentals in place and the potential to unleash their awesome backs still remains.

If the Lions are to stand any chance the forwards will have to step up to the mark.

On the evidence so far, I have my doubts because the changes made in the team do little to enhance the situation.

I would love to see the Lions put one over on the All Blacks but think it is unlikely.