Former Lions forward insists it's time to get physical

Ex-British & Irish Lions forward Derek White admits the tourists have a mountain to climb after losing the opening test against the All Blacks 30-15 at Eden Park.

Sunday, 25th June 2017, 5:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:30 am
Liam Williams sets off from his own 22 to lay on Sean O'Brien's try during the first test of the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour at Eden Park, Auckland

Only twice before have they lost the opening test and managed to turn a series around.

White was a member of the Lions squad that managed to do just that on the 1989 tour to Australia.

He believes it will take a mammoth effort for the current crop to do the same against the reigning world champions in New Zealand...

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The first test was hugely disappointing.

I thought it was all going pretty well up until the 50th minute and then it went a bit awry.

The Lions started on the front foot and could easily have scored a try almost right from the off.

There were a lot of good performances out there and the back three in particular justified their inclusion.

As I suggested beforehand, though, the game was won and lost up front.

The All Blacks forwards proved too strong. Kieran Read won the battle of the number eights hands down and you didn’t see much of the Lions back-row, who were exhausted by all the tackles they had to put in.

The All Blacks were a lot more direct and dynamic going forward and the Lions in comparison looked a bit pedestrian.

The game was played at a terrific pace and some of the players were gasping after the opening half-hour.

Alun Wyn Jones looked out on his feet and was replaced early in the second half.

The Lions also paid the price for falling asleep a couple of times, which was criminal because you cannot afford to do that against the All Blacks.

They had chances at times but failed to make them count.

You have to be clinical when the opportunities arise.

We did have the consolation, though, of scoring one of the great tries.

That was why Liam Williams was brought into the side but I must admit when he started to run inside his own twenty-two I shouted kick it.

But then with a shimmy and a half hand-off he was away and the support running was terrific.

That wasn’t the only time the Lions got in behind the All Blacks defence, which gives us some cause for optimism.

If the Lions are going to turn things around, though, they will have to be far more physical up front.

Mario Itoje needs to come in from the start because I thought he made a difference when he went on.

It is not all doom and gloom – for long periods there wasn’t much in it.

Surprisingly the All Blacks line-out did not look too secure and that will be an area they are sure to be working on.

The Lions, however, need to show greater physicality and to inject a bit more pace and urgency.