Lions tour: The All Blacks starting XV – What you need to know

  • 23/06/2017
Getty images
Getty images

15 Ben Smith - 31, 61 Tests

Ben Smith celebrates with Israel Dagg against Samoa at Eden Park (Getty)
Ben Smith celebrates with Israel Dagg against Samoa at Eden Park (Getty)

Consistently one of their best. Positional play and counter-attack will be critical if the Lions kick as much as expected.

14 Israel Dagg - 29, 62 Tests

High balls are his specialty. Brilliant last year but needs a big Test to keep Waisake Naholo at bay.

13 Ryan Crotty - 28, 26 Tests

Coach Hansen values his sense and sensibility at the start of a tight Test. Ousts the less experienced Anton Lienert-Brown.

12 Sonny Bill Williams - 31, 34 Tests

Sonny Bill Williams in action against Samoa (Getty)
Sonny Bill Williams in action against Samoa (Getty)

Offloads will be one way to breach the tourists' red wall and there's not really anyone better at that.

11 Rieko Ioane - 20, 2 Tests

How are the nerves? Shock promotion to replace a try-scoring machine. A Test start was always coming but this is a big stage.

10 Beauden Barrett - 26, 50 Tests

Beauden Barrett in action in 2016 (Getty)
Beauden Barrett in action in 2016 (Getty)

Game-breaker extraordinaire, could have the same influence as Dan Carter 12 years ago. Will hope the goalkicking radar is attuned.

9 Aaron Smith - 28, 59 Tests

Still feeling around for his best. Keeps Perenara benched because of a rapid pass which could be deadly with quick ball.

8 Kieran Read - 31, 97 Tests

All Blacks captain Kieran Read (Getty)
All Blacks captain Kieran Read (Getty)

World class and fit again. Big question - can he hit the ground running after months out like his captaincy predecessor used to.

7 Sam Cane - 25, 41 Tests

Steady if unspectacular this year, will have his hands full disrupting the methodical Lions breakdown work.

6 Jerome Kaino - 34, 78 Tests

Another not long back from injury but important he can impose himself on the muscular tourists, who have munched most Kiwi packs so far.

5 Sam Whitelock - 28, 85 Tests

Brodie Retallick, Jerome Kaino and Sam Whitelock (Getty)
Brodie Retallick, Jerome Kaino and Sam Whitelock (Getty)

As always, leads the aerial assault in a Test where possession will be nine- tenths of the law.

4 Brodie Retallick - 26, 61 Tests

Looked right back to his rampaging best against Samoa, doing a bit of everything. Collisions await.

3 Owen Franks - 29, 91 Tests

Won't be happy at what happened in Christchurch, when the Lions schooled the Crusaders tactically in the tight.

2 Codie Taylor - 26, 16 Tests

Codie Taylor scores for the All Blacks against Samoa (Getty)
Codie Taylor scores for the All Blacks against Samoa (Getty)

The same motivation as Franks and plenty to prove to those who reckon he's not in the same class as the injured Dane Coles.

1 Joe Moody - 28, 25 Tests

Faces one of the sternest scrum examinations of a relatively short but successful Test career.

NZN 

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Email
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Viber Share to WhatsApp Share to Email