Super Rugby’s ‘chaos’ could undo Lions

Central Leader - - SITUATIONS VACANT - STAFF RE­PORTER

The Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions have been warned against tak­ing on the All Blacks at their own game as the pace and fury of New Zealand’s Super Rugby cam­paign is rammed home to Bri­tish au­di­ences.

For­mer Eng­land and Lions first-five Stu­art Barnes used last Satur­day’s Cru­saders v High­landers match as an ex­am­ple of ‘‘epic chaos’’ and a style of rugby War­ren Gat­land’s team needs to avoid try­ing to repli­cate on their loom­ing tour.

Oth­er­wise, Barnes, sug­gested, the Lions ‘‘will do well to win any of their five matches against Super Rugby fran­chises’’, let alone the All Blacks.

‘‘Euro­pean rugby has its own pe­cu­liar strengths but cer­tainly not the speed of the Kiwi game,’’ Barnes wrote in The Times.

‘‘And noth­ing like the individual skill. The game in Dunedin was quicker than any test match we will see in the Six Na­tions.

‘‘Play­ers in all po­si­tions have to per­form with no time to think be­fore the in­evitable abra­sive hits. This wasn’t the ‘bas­ket­ball’ rugby north­ern hemi­sphere ob­servers once termed Super Rugby. It was a sport­ing bat­tle­field. The only break from the ac­tion was to al­low the in­jured to be carted from the field.

‘‘Er­rors? There were plenty. But play­ing at this pace, week af­ter week, en­sures the elite have their skills honed un­der ev­er­in­creas­ing pres­sure. This is why New Zealand’s han­dling skills hold up so much bet­ter than any other na­tion’s in the eye of the test match storm.

‘‘The game is evolv­ing at an in­creas­ing rate. There is New Zealand and the rest of the world. Try­ing to catch up with a horse that has bolted makes lit­tle to no sense.

‘‘Bet­ter for the Lions to try to slam shut the sta­ble door. Un­til our cul­ture changes we are only ever go­ing to beat New Zealand when the odd blue moon blazes over­head. Tak­ing them on at their own game is a guar­an­tee of cloudy nights.’’

Barnes noted that it was only two games into the Super Rugby sea­son and ‘‘these play­ers will have elim­i­nated the lit­tle slop­pi­ness by the time the Lions ar­rive’’.

And the tourists’ chances have been fur­ther dark­ened by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen al­low­ing the Blues and Cru­saders to pick their in­ter­na­tion­als for the early Super Rugby games against the Lions.

GETTY IMAGES

Cru­saders wing Is­rael Dagg is at full pace to con­front High­landers op­po­site Waisake Na­holo dur­ing their pul­sat­ing Super Rugby match last week­end.

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