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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 June, 2005, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
All Black Magic: Five Stars to Watch
New Zealand, as you would expect from a side ranked number one in the world, are brimming with talent.

From the fliers in the backs to the heavy hitters up front, the hosts have a variety of weapons to unleash on the Lions.

All Blacks legend Zinzan Brooke gives you the run-down on five of the biggest stars waiting to test the tourists.

RICHIE MCCAW:

He is such a good all-round player I think it is only a matter of time before he captains the side. It sits with him well.

New Zealand flanker Richie McCaw
Age: 24
Position: Flanker
Caps: 26 (3 tries)
Did you know?: McCaw grew up tending cattle and sheep on his father's farm
He is right up there with guys who can really influence a game, like Jonny Wilkinson. He has got real star quality and is going to make a feast of it.

The Lions may have the likes of Dallaglio, Hill and Back but whoever they play in the back row will be hard pressed to contain McCaw.

He turns up in all the right places and does all the right things; he reads the game so well and always gets himself in the right body position around the ball.

There is no doubt he will be a thorn in the side of the Lions.

DANIEL CARTER:

There is bit of a young Jonny about Carter. He has the same ability as Wilkinson, although Jonny probably just has the upper hand in defence.

New Zealand fly-half Daniel Carter
Age: 23
Position: Fly-half
Caps: 17 (232 pts)
Did you know?: Carter, a student, once earned extra money by picking yams
But Daniel is probably a bit more of a runner, and will take the ball up to the line and challenge the Lions.

Their defence will have to be spot on because he has the speed and ability to take it up and pop it out of the tackle.

His goalkicking is also right up there with Wilkinson's and he has a good head on him. He understands when to run and when he needs to kick the ball.

He is going to be crucial to the All Blacks' hopes of victory.

JERRY COLLINS:

Like Rodney So'oailo alongside him in the back row, Jerry is one to watch out for. He can be devastating with the ball in hand and is very good in defence.

New Zealand flanker Jerry Collins
Age: 24
Position: Flanker
Caps: 20 (1 try)
Did you know?: Collins used to be a bin-man for Wellington City Council
There are not too many guys who would want to run into him - Scott Gibbs is probably the only one who would do it!

The only worry I have over him is in the discipline area. Sometimes he looks to off-load with a 50/50 ball when he could just place it and recycle.

You need to make sure you secure the win before you start throwing the ball around because ball maintenance in today's game is such a key area.

But Jerry has certainly got the ability to make a big impact.

CHRIS JACK:

He is one guy New Zealand will need to wrap in cotton wool because we are not overly blessed with locks at the moment.

New Zealand lock Chris Jack
Age: 26
Position: Lock
Caps: 36 (3 tries)
Did you know?: Jack's elder brother Graham also played lock for Canterbury
We have got one very good one in Jack but someone else needs to step up to fit the bill.

Jack is so important to the All Blacks line-out. There is no doubting his ability and strength in that department.

But he can also run with the ball like a loose forward, and when it's someone 6ft 7in doing that, it can be a bit scary.

He will need to be at the top of his game against the Lions.

DOUG HOWLETT:

Howlett is not as big or robust as others like Sitiveni Sivivatu or Joe Rokocoko but he is still a great finisher and knows his way to the line.

New Zealand wing Doug Howlett
Age: 26
Position: Wing
Caps: 45 (34 tries)
Did you know?: Howlett was NZ U-20 champion at 100m, running 10.67secs
He is also a worker, getting back and covering the other guys in a 'banana sweep' of the back three.

Rokocoko can look a bit cumbersome when he is chasing back, so the opposition is right on him and he has to make a split decision.

But Howlett has that urgency. He busts a gut to get back to give himself more time to decide whether to kick or run.

He has pace to burn and will test the Lions defence out wide.


LIONS TOUR 2005

ALL BLACKS WHITEWASH LIONS




VOTE RESULTS
What was the main reason for the Lions' whitewash in NZ?
All Blacks just too good
58%
Woodward's selections
30%
Injuries to key players
6%
Squad was too big
6%
97190 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed



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