Lions tour: Steve Hansen tips Lions to change 'rush' defensive tactics

  • 25/06/2017

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has tipped the British and Irish Lions to mix up their defensive strategy for Saturday's second Test, having been flummoxed by his side's first-Test tactics.

Bringing their customary defensive line speed to Eden Park, the Lions were gradually worn down by Hansen's decision to play through halfback Aaron Smith and conceded three tries to lose 30-15.

Instead of passing to first-fives Beauden Barrett or Aaron Cruden, Smith often played short balls to carriers around the ruck - from Sonny Bill Williams to rampaging lock Brodie Retallick - to exhaust the tourists.

The Lions made 165 tackles to the All Blacks' 97, while Smith made almost double the passes of counterpart Conor Murray.

Given his side's success in playing off Smith, Hansen expected a more physical battle at the breakdown in Wellington next week.

But the upshot of that would be reduced Lions line speed for Barrett to exploit.

"I thought they were reasonably unabrasive at the breakdown - they allowed us to get the ball we needed by not putting numbers in, because they wanted to have line speed," Hansen told reporters on Sunday.

"Maybe they'll look at changing that, so we'll have to get better at the breakdown - but that comes with some disadvantages (for them) too."

Yet, like the Lions, Hansen felt his side had their own issues to address.

They had been too easily cut up on the counter-attack by fullback Liam Williams, and spent a 25-minute spell on either side of half-time under duress.

Down just 13-8, the Lions threw away a handful of decent opportunities to score before running out of steam.

Improving their kick-chase would also be important in the Kiwi capital.

"They had some genuine success with moving the ball from the back, you don't score tries like they did without having people capable of hurting you - they may look to do a little more of that," Hansen said.

"We'll have to sharpen up, right from the beginning, our ability to connect in the middle of the park and make our tackles.

"In saying that, I was very proud of our scramble defence.

"We hold the advantage in that we're one Test up, but they're going to have to chuck everything they've got at us to stay alive."