Lions tour: Chiefs coach Dave Rennie predicts Lions provide stern test for All Blacks

  • 21/06/2017
The Lions have continued to improve, says Dave Rennie. Photo credit: Getty
The Lions have continued to improve, says Dave Rennie. Photo credit: Getty

Chiefs boss Dave Rennie says the British and Irish Lions will provide three tight Tests against the All Blacks, having watched their mid-week squad suffocate his troops 34-6 in Hamilton.

Despite the absence of almost all players pencilled in for Saturday's first Test, the Lions were far too good for a similarly understrength Chiefs side missing the likes of Aaron Cruden, Sam Cane and Brodie Retallick on All Blacks duty.

They scored four tries, controlled all of the territory, ran riot at the set-piece and - unlike their Test teammates - threw the ball around willingly.

It was a far cry from the brawny, up-the-guts style that has characterised much of the tourists' rugby on Kiwi shores so far.

"I think it's going to be the series everyone thought it was going to be maybe a month ago, there's maybe been a little bit of doubt recently," Rennie said.

"But they're getting better and better and, as we know, when they're down at the right end of the field, they can play footy.

"They were certainly pretty clinical tonight."

First-five Stephen Donald admitted the tourists' vaunted rush defence had caused them some issues, but was confident the All Blacks would have their own answers to it.

"It was obvious they suffocated us…they saw our little nudges in behind and a couple of our little plays.

"To be fair, the All Blacks have some fairly handy individuals and they've been planning for this for a long time.

"I'm pretty sure they'll have a few tricks up their sleeve too."

With six senior players on All Blacks duty for the next three weeks, the Chiefs will take a 10-day break before reconvening in early July, ahead of their final regular season 2017 Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies on home turf.

A quarter-final away from home will follow.

Rennie said many of his younger players - such as Chase Tiatia and Finlay Christie - would be better for their experience against the world's best players.

They could take that into Rennie's final Super Rugby tilt, before heading off to join Glasgow Warriors for the next northern campaign.

"This time last year, we beat Wales (40-7 in Hamilton) and didn't win a title, so I'd be much happier winning the title and losing tonight," Rennie said.

"We'll have a good build-up."