We dissect the three big decisions made ahead of the second Test.
Given there was so much talk about the potential of this 10-12 partnership since the squad was named in April it should come as no surprise that they will start a Test match together yet this is still an unproven alliance. It worked well against the Crusaders when Sexton came off the bench but did not shine last Saturday when the Lions were chasing the game. While Ben Te’o’s physical match up at 12 with Sonny Bill Williams was a genuine contest, Gatland will want to see Farrell’s greater creativity in the role as he reprises an England role that helped retain the Six Nations title.
Warburton for O’Mahony
The Test captain a week ago, Peter O’Mahony appears to have been made the fall guy for the first Test defeat. While his numbers were not off the charts in terms of tackles the whispering campaign against his retention seems out of kilter with the aggressive presence he brings to the captaincy and while Warburton is tour captain the Welsh flanker was not exactly pulling up trees himself when he came on for O’Mahony early in the second half.
Naholo into the back three
Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty’s absence through injury has given Steve Hansen the opportunity to beef up his backline with Israel Dagg’s switch from wing to full-back bringing Waisake Naholo into the back three. Naholo unsettled the Lions in Dunedin two weeks ago when the Highlanders won their midweek game, powering over the line for their first try, showing clever footwork as well as raw athletic power. There is more strength off the bench with potential debutant Ngani Laumape the outside back cover, set to face the Lions for a second time in a week after a powerful try-scoring performance for the Hurricanes.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved