Credit to the NZ Barbarians (who only met each other for the first time a week ago) for the way they played, the majority of that squad don’t play Super rugby, including a sheep farmer who’s never even played a 1st div game.
With The Blues ready and waiting for The Lions on Wednesday a performance that would have put a small bit of fear into the Auckland side didn’t materialise, Sexton, Warbs, Best, Watson, Hogg, Laidlaw, Henderson, Marler were poor Joseph & AWJ not much better and has thrown the entire tour up in the air. The performance from Warbs is the most worrying, Tipuric played better when he replaced him, until Farrell came on there was no leader out there, on that performance he has to and should be worried about his test place.
They are probably anxious. There’s an abundance of talent and ability in this squad, the question is whether they can form a high-functioning test team after that dismal performance within the timeframe that they have. Sinckler, Moriarty, Faletau, Seymour were superb, which must be taken as a positive, all will be rested on Wednesday, with a view to Crusader in Christchurch next Saturday and have penciled a place in the first test squad for sure, the rest of that starting side probably played themselves off the test side and will be only play in midweek games. If the Lions play like that in any of the remaining games then it’s very clear they won’t win any of them.
The planning of such a massive tour and all that goes with it must be called into question, flying out 2 days after the rugby season has ended in the UK and Ireland is far from ideal, with so many of the players involved right up to the last games, even worse is having to play a game 4 days after touching down.
Baring in mind the Crusaders game next Saturday, this is my starting XV against Auckland Blues 1 to 15:
McGrath, George, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Haskell, O Brien, Stander, Webb, Biggar, Daly, Henshaw, Davies, Nowell Halfpenny.