Lions tour: Are the British and Irish Lions about to ambush the All Blacks with attacking flair?

  • 22/06/2017

If Warren Gatland is trying to confuse the All Blacks about what tactics his British and Irish Lions will use in the first Test, he's doing a pretty decent job.

Addressing the media on Thursday, Gatland spoke with energy about unfurling an attacking brand against the world champions at Eden Park.

Moments later it was all about his team's ability to "squeeze the life" out of opponents which had emerged as an obvious strength in the six tour games to date.

While All Blacks counterpart Steve Hansen is predicting a one-dimensional approach, fellow-Kiwi Gatland spoke of a desire to keep building on the attacking strides made on tour.

It was why he has introduced Welsh fullback Liam Williams and England winger Elliot Daly to his regular Saturday team in place of Leigh Halfpenny and George North respectively.

The promoted pair shone with their verve in Tuesday's bright win over the Chiefs and are the sort of players Gatland says he needs.

"To play the All Blacks, you have to be bold, you have to take risks," he said.

"We've been encouraging them to have an offloading game when it's appropriate and we think we've seen development of that coming together.

"We have to bring other elements to the game, which is about playing with some flair, taking some risks. That's the way you beat the All Blacks."

However, Gatland became defensive when it was suggested the Test series will be a clash of styles - between the up-tempo hosts and a touring side who have relied on set piece muscle, a fast defensive line and astute kicking.

Those attributes were most apparent in their Saturday wins over the Crusaders and Maori All Blacks, teams who Gatland wryly noted were touted as electric attacking teams.

"We squeezed the life out of those two teams and we won't stop being aggressive defensively," he said.

"A lot of people have speculated about contrasting styles. I can't fault the players if we're getting some success by dominating up front.

"We're not going to go away from that, we're not going to be talked into playing Barbarian-type rugby when we've got certain weapons to use. That's being smart about the way you play."