Beale’s Boots and the Lucky Lions Posted almost 11 years ago

Photo: The lucky Lions

The Lions were lucky. They were lucky because all they could do was stand and watch. Their fate was in someone else’s feet. Their fate was in the feet of a talented player who was guilty of a lack of preparation and professionalism. Lucky.

What was Kurtley Beale thinking of? When I was playing I was paranoid about my boots and studs and getting the right combination. But Beale was trying a long range kick off a wet piece of turf in a pair of blades. Captain James Horwill rallied behind Beale afterwards, but I would not have been impressed if I were his coach.

Horwill now has a big task ahead of him, but he is a very good player and the spiritual leader of the team along with Will Genia. While those two are on the park anything is possible. Indeed I have a feeling Australia will win the second test. It is backs to the wall stuff.

Robbie Deans knows they should have won the first test and he will use that to look forwards. He is a positive type and will be long past the frustration. And it may well be that the injuries strengthen Australia. It worked out that way for the Chiefs last season. After our early defeat to the Highlanders we lost some key players. There was a bit of doom and gloom about, but the young players came in and improved the team. I have a feeling the same thing might happen with Australia.

I would like Matt Toomua to come in, but I am not sure it will happen. Toomua is very tough defensively, he takes the ball to the line and he is a good attacking kicker. But much will depend on Christian Lealifano’s fitness. It would be good if James O’Connor moved out slightly. He is a very good player, but not necessarily a director.

The Lions also have selection issues. Last weekend they won because of missed kicks, a piece of individual brilliance and the fact that Michael Hooper was out of position. The Lions exposed him in the centre for their second try and maybe Australia should have had him defending in the 9 or 10 channel, where he is more used to covering as a flanker.

The Lions are unlikely to get such gifts for a second week, so I would like to see them go with Ben Youngs, who clears the ball quickly and is sharper around the edges. Mike Phillips is a good runner, but he was unable to get the backline fizzing in the first test, much as we feared.

Dan Lydiate could come in for Tom Croft who was disappointing last Saturday night and I still wonder if Dan Coles should start ahead of Adam Jones because of his superiority around the pitch. Geoff Parling will come in for the injured O’Connell, but he would have been in my first choice team in any case.

The dilemma for the Lions is whether to commit more numbers at the breakdown to create quicker ball for their backs or to keep the balance from the first test. I noticed that Andy Farrell changed the defensive pattern to a drift – was that to make the Aussies think or because Australia exposed Farrell’s rush defence against England at Twickenham.

The Aussies will be coming at the weekend, so the Lions have to get it right.

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_Graham Henry on Wayne Smith:_ "Wayne is the best coach I have ever coached with. He has a huge work ethic, does lots of research and has a great feel for the game. At the moment he is the defence coach and is also involved with our counter attacking strategy. He is a very thoughtful man and takes a major interest in how we use turnover ball. He has been going around with a little camera which he uses to track individual players for a whole game. It has proved quite embarrassing for some. There is nowhere to hide and the players soon learn where they have to step up. Top bloke."

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