Saturday 16 December 2017

Jerome Kaino anticipates stronger Lions side if Sam Warburton starts second Test

Jerome Kaino poses for a portrait during the New Zealand All Blacks Headshots Session on June 11, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Jerome Kaino poses for a portrait during the New Zealand All Blacks Headshots Session on June 11, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

New Zealand star Jerome Kaino has predicted a "huge lift of intensity" at the breakdown area if British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton starts Saturday's second Test.

Wales flanker Warburton is expected to begin the Westpac Stadium clash after being on bench duty for the opening Test series encounter in Auckland last weekend when New Zealand triumphed 30-15.

First Test skipper Peter O'Mahony could be the man to drop out, while England lock Maro Itoje is another probable starter as the Lions look for a vastly-improved performance in the collision and physicality stakes.

"Sam is a great leader," All Blacks flanker Kaino said.

"I don't think they lose anything having Sam in there.

"We are expecting a huge lift of intensity at the breakdown if they bring Sam in. If anything, they get stronger having him there."

The Lions have only won a Test series twice before - in 1899 and 1989 - after going 1-0 down, which underlines how big their task is in three days' time.

They have not beaten New Zealand for 24 years, and Kaino added: "For us, it's looking at how we can improve.

"I know for a fact down the road (in Wellington), their (Lions') team meetings and training will have a lot of edge and a lot of emotion.

"I don't think it is smart for us to sit back and expect it to happen.

"We need to make sure we turn the screws a lot more in our training and expect a backlash from the Lions at the weekend."

New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster, meanwhile, also has no doubt the Lions will bring everything to the party in their quest for a series-levelling victory.

"We know Andy Farrell (Lions assistant coach) and the likes really well," Foster said.

"They are tough men, competitive men. We've seen England play, Ireland play, all those teams, and there is a lot of pride in that group, and going 1-0 down will hurt and there will definitely be a response.

"But that is not going to surprise us because we are going to have to respond, too.

"When emotions get high in big games, it's a matter of who can match the physicality side and bring that, but also have clear enough heads that we can make good decisions and see opportunities when they come.

"That is probably something we did quite well last week and we've got to do it again this week."

Key to New Zealand's win last Saturday was the performance of captain Kieran Read, who led his team brilliantly in a first appearance for eight weeks after being injured while on Super Rugby duty.

Read has ensured a seamless transition from retired double World Cup-winning skipper Richie McCaw, and Foster said: "He definitely does it his own way.

"They (Read and McCaw) are two very different people who use very different methods, but remarkably achieve the same sort of result in a roundabout way.

"Reado was a large part of the leadership when Richie was here, so it's not like that part of it was new to him.

"In a normal All Black career, he probably would have been an All Black captain a lot earlier. He came into it late in his career in terms of games.

"He just has a calmness about him and he has a great ability to work with the younger players and make them feel included and empowered.

"I think we saw that at the weekend with (wing) Rieko Ioane, who comes in for his first Test start in a massive Test - I guess we got questioned a little bit on that - but Rieko just felt confident in that environment to go and be who he needs to be."

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