Lu­di­crous in­tinerary will bring huge toll on Lions

The Rugby Paper - - News - Dick Best in­ter­view: Pages 20-21>

got his­tory where that’s con­cerned, but it has al­ways hap­pened in rugby – and I don’t have a prob­lem if it is within the laws.”

The laws were flouted on the last tour to New Zealand in 2005 when the Lions cap­tain, Brian O’Driscoll, was bla­tantly spear-tack­led in an off-the­ball in­ci­dent in the open­ing min­utes of the First Test by his All Black coun­ter­part, Tana Umaga, and hooker Keven Mealamu.

It re­sulted in a dis­lo­cated shoul­der which ended the Ir­ish cen­tre’s tour and saw the se­ries – which ended in a 3-0 white­wash by New Zealand – em­broiled in con­tro­versy.

Best warns that be­cause of the de­mands of a “lu­di­crous” itin­er­ary which sees the 2017 Lions play­ing ten games in five weeks back-to-back against the best teams from the best rugby coun­try in the world, the tourists should ex­pect the heav­i­est in­jury toll yet.

Best, above, be­lieves that for the Lions to win the se­ries they must go to New Zealand mob-handed, with head coach War­ren Gat­land boost­ing the size of the tour party to 45, com­pared to the 37 play­ers picked ini­tially for the 2013 tour to Aus­tralia.

“Don’t worry about the tour party be­ing too big,” Best says. “Take 45 play­ers if nec­es­sary, be­cause what you don’t want to be do­ing is spend­ing all your time at air­ports...nor do you want play­ers com­ing in cold, who are not fa­mil­iar with the calls or the struc­tures.”

He adds: “You ba­si­cally have to pick three com­plete teams, be­cause it could well be the third line-up which will find them­selves play­ing for their lives in the third test in Auck­land.”

Vul­ner­a­ble: Sex­ton

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