Saturday 23 September 2017

'They can be rattled' - Brian O'Driscoll believes the Lions series has exposed frailties in All Blacks game

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Brian O'Driscoll believes Ireland's victory in Chicago last November and the exploits of the Lions on New Zealand soil have given the chasing pack hope ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Before the defeat at Soldier Field, the All Blacks were on a world record run and were running up massive scores against their biggest Southern Hemisphere rivals but the defensive template deployed by the Lions could allow others to challenge Steve Hansen's men, according to Ireland's record tryscorer.

Speaking on Off The Ball on Newstalk tonight, O'Driscoll believes the win in Wellington and the draw at Eden Park, the first in 23 years, will be a huge boost for the game as a whole.

"You know what the great thing is? They looked human in this Test series and that's great for world rugby," he said

"Before November, everyone would have thought the next world cup was a foregone conclusion, maybe with on outside chance of England rattling a few cages but the All Blacks will be the first team to win three-in-a-row.

"I think what this does , similar to what Ireland created for the Lions tour, is it gives everyone a shot in the arm. That do you know what, on our day we can stop them from playing well and we can impose ourselves and have a great defensive game and have a good goalkicker... you're in the hunt with these guys.

"They can be rattled. Of that there is no doubt.

"I look at the centres and I think they have a long way to go to having a centre partnership like Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith were. I think that's a big area where the Lions got some ascendancy."

One of the most impressive aspects of the Lions' display was their defensive efforts and O'Driscoll praised Andy Farrell for becoming the first coach to beat the All Blacks with three different international teams.

"It speaks volumes for the standards he sets for the team's he's involved in and it speaks volumes for his defensive tactics and ideas," he added.

"When you see teams trying to turn defence into an attack and use it as a weapon that's a very powerful tool on top of a good attack game.

"That performance was built on ferocious defence."

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