Lions Tour: All Blacks 'have to be smarter' against Lions in Test series - Codie Taylor

  • 11/06/2017

Noisy lineouts, perplexing scrums and quirky French referees.  

They're all issues the All Blacks will need to handle when they face the British and Irish Lions, says Codie Taylor.

New Zealand's likely starting hooker in the three-Test series, Taylor got a first-hand look at what makes the Lions' set piece tick when his Crusaders were beaten 12-3 by the tourists in Christchurch.

It was a far cry from he and his all-All Blacks tight five are used to in Super Rugby.            

But it was effective, and that has Taylor on edge.

The biggest problem was the scrum, normally a Crusaders weapon, where they were penalised heavily by French referee Mathieu Raynal.

That penalty count helped the Lions dominate possession and territory and left the Crusaders without a reliable platform.

Taylor says it took half a game to adjust to the tourists' tactics of "changing the picture", which in front-row parlance means varying the size of the space between both packs at every scrum.

"I suppose we didn't get the rub of the green but we had to adapt to what was happening with the ref and what their tactics were.," he said. 

"They would change the picture, which was really smart and we probably weren't prepared for that.

"The All Blacks, we'll have to be a bit smarter."

Taylor says having played under Raynal will be of benefit, with two other French whistleblowers - Jerome Garces and Romain Poite - to control the second and third Tests.

As well as the scrum rulings, Raynal also let the Lions get away with some unusual lineout antics.

Explaining why the Crusaders' lineout was malfunctioning early on, Taylor says the touring forwards would shout over the home team's calls, creating confusion.

And on their own throw, the Lions routinely go into a huddle, slowing down play.

"We can't do anything about that unless the ref speeds it up. I don't think they're breaking any rules," Taylor said.

"And we've seen over the last few weeks, they like to make a bit of noise and try to confuse us."

Taylor is poised to start the Tests, with Dane Coles given little chance of being ready for the opener at Eden Park in two weeks. The world-class Coles has been struggling to overcome ongoing concussion symptoms.

"It sucks for Dane because I know how much he'd want to be out there," Taylor said.    

AAP

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