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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Zinzan Brooke column


All Blacks legend

The All Blacks have got to sit up and take notice of what the Lions did against Wellington.

Wellington had a few guys out but I don't think they would have made too much difference, the way the Lions approached the game.

Jonny Wilkinson makes a break against Wellington as Gareth Thomas looks on
I'd still be surprised if Jonny is not at number 10 against the All Blacks
They were very physical, very direct and it was a good, robust performance. I thought they performed well.

Their basics of scrum and line-out looked to be pretty good, and although there might be a couple of variations, I think their strategy in the Tests will be built around those.

They needed to try some moves and new combinations, as we saw when Gavin Henson put Gareth Thomas through in the first half.

But if Jonny Wilkinson is going to play inside centre, then Thomas has got to get his line off him.

I don't know what Clive Woodward is doing - maybe he is playing silly games with Graham Henry. But from New Zealand's point of view, I hope they do play Wilkinson at inside centre.

He is a viable option but if you are going to do it, why bring all these specialist centres? I thought Gavin Henson looked quite good and at least was trying things.

If they drop him now there is a chance it could affect team morale because he is a confident guy and could be quite outspoken if he is not happy.

Jonny was not quite clinical enough at fly-half, but he is probably lacking a bit of sharpness, which is understandable.

But I'd still be surprised if he is not at number 10 against the All Blacks.

Some of the forwards really stuck their hands up against Wellington.

Gethin Jenkins had a barnstorming game, and they looked to have solved the hooker problem with Shane Byrne.

Steve Thompson was pretty average against the Maori and he needs to sort out his basics of throwing in and ball-carrying. He is lacking in both departments at the moment.

Neil Back makes a break against Wellington
Back had a big performance and did enough to warrant Test selection
Martin Corry and Neil Back also put in notable performances.

I think Corry has played himself into the Test number eight shirt, and Michael Owen has played himself out.

I thought Owen was pretty average against the Maori. He was very hesitant and laboured, and when the heat was on, I saw flaws in his game.

Corry has his limitations, as we saw when he scored against Taranaki. He wouldn't have needed the TV referee if he had put the ball under his other arm and used his elbow against the last defender; that was schoolboy stuff.

He also cost what should have been an easy try against Wellington when he had a huge overlap and decided to cut inside. I don't think he even looked.

But he has been in good environments with Leicester and England and he brings that hard-nosed attitude the Lions will need against the All Blacks.

Back had a big performance on his return and did enough to warrant Test selection.

The breakdown was a lot better and they were throwing two or three guys into it, getting over the ball and protecting it.

New Zealand will have guys challenging for the ball and if you don't have numbers there, they will blow you off the ball.

Martyn Williams has to play himself back into the team now. He needs a big game against Otago after being out-muscled and out-gunned against the Maori.

Simon Easterby didn't do himself any harm but I'd still expect Richard Hill to be in the Test side, even if on the basis of his display against the Maori, he could do with another game.

But that is unlikely now as I can't see any of the Test players playing against Southland next Tuesday.

They have played enough rugby during the season so they should be able to slot together, even if guys like Hill and Wilkinson look a bit short of games.

But it looks like Clive has pretty much made his decisions now. That may put the jitters up the All Blacks selectors, who I'm sure would have liked to see the likely Test team once more.




SEE ALSO
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All Black Magic: Five Stars to Watch
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Early history of the Lions
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All Blacks player profiles
25 May 05 |  Lions in NZ


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