Ludicrous intinerary will bring huge toll on Lions
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.”