Henry: B&I Lions series is 'a hard watch'
SPOTLIGHT: Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry has branded the British and Irish Lions Test series against the Springboks as “a hard watch” as he called on the Lions to produce “some attacking flair” to save the series.
The Springboks defeated the Lions 27-9 in the second Test of the series in Cape Town last weekend, bringing the two teams level heading into the third and final Test this weekend.
Both teams have come under criticism in the wake of the second Test, though, with onlookers unimpressed by dull nature of the affair.
Current All Blacks head coach Ian Foster claimed on Monday that the Test, which he described as “low-risk” and a “slugfest”, put him to sleep, and now Henry has lashed out at the affair.
Speaking on The Breakdown, Henry said the series has been difficult to watch and that the Lions need to inject some attacking spark into their game as he believes the Springboks will win the third Test if the tourists don’t change their game plan.
“If the Lions don’t change the game plan and [don’t] use the ball a lot more, I don’t think they’re going to get the result they need,” the 75-year-old said.
“They want to win, they’ve got to play. That’s fair. At the moment, it’s a hard watch for people that have been watching it.
“It’s a hard watch and both sides are playing similar football – kicking a lot, big defences. Somebody’s gotta find some attacking flair to win this game. The Springboks will win if the game continues the same way.”
Henry, who coached the All Blacks between 2004 and 2011 and guided New Zealand to its second World Cup crown in his final year in charge of the side, added the Lions were outmuscled up front and that the Springboks have a stronger kicking game.
“I think the Lions have lost some momentum. The South Africans played better, obviously, and won convincingly,” he said.
“They’ve got a better scrum, the South Africans, and they’ve got a more astute kicking game, I think, and more guys who can kick astutely in the backline, so I think the Lions have got ahead of them. If they get up from here, it’ll be amazing.”
Henry has experience coaching both for and against the Lions during his lengthy coaching career.
During his time as Wales head coach, Henry was appointed as Lions boss for their 2001 tour of Australia, where they suffered a 2-1 Test series defeat to the Wallabies.
Four years later, Henry masterminded the All Blacks to a 3-0 Test series whitewash of the Lions during their 2005 tour of New Zealand.
Reminiscing on his time in charge of the Lions, Henry revealed he took the wrong leadership approach and implored current Lions boss Warren Gatland to learn from last week’s defeat to help ensure he secures a third straight undefeated test series.
“Well, I didn’t get it right. If you had your chance again, I think you’d use the players a lot more in leading the team,” Henry said of the 2001 Lions tour.
“I led from the front, which was the wrong thing to do, when I had them. I look back on that, and that’s a learning experience.
“Warren’s done this the third time now, and I’m sure he’s doing that [learning].
“I just think they need to play a lot more football if they’re to get a result, because the South Africans have probably got the wood on them up front, particularly at the scrum and their kicking game is better.”
By Alex McLeod, @RugbyPass