Belfast Telegraph

All Blacks 30-15 Lions: Rory Best can be the saviour against New Zealand, says Ferris

Former Ulster player reckons Ireland captain has to start second test

By Gareth Hanna

As the British and Irish Lions look back on what went wrong in Auckland, former player Stephen Ferris has one big suggestion for a quick fix.

After New Zealand's 30-15 success at Eden Park, Ferris said that Rory Best is a ready-made solution to a couple of the Lions' biggest problems that the hosts' exposed. "For me I would definitely make one change and I'm not just saying this because he's an old Ulster colleague of mine but Rory Best is unbelievable at the breakdown. He's probably the best scrummaging hooker in the world," explained Ferris on Sky Sports.

"(Those are) two areas that the Lions need to improve on so I would get him in there. I thought Jamie George went about his business OK but for me, if there's one change to get this Lions team to slow the breakdown and better their scrum, it's Rory Best to come in there.

STORY OF THE MATCH: All Blacks 30-15 British and Irish Lions: Clinical New Zealand punish patchy Lions

"I thought Peter O'Mahony was very, very good in the lineout. When he's playing for Ireland, we see him getting over the ball a lot more. When you're playing against the All Blacks, you're not going to get the same time. I would go with the same back row except the additions of Rory Best and (Maro) Itoje in there to freshen it up and attack that breakdown."

While it took a last gasp converted try to avoid a deficit of over 20 points, Lions coach Warren Gatland was also of the opinion that the Lions can claw their way back into the series with their flaws readily rectifiable.

"The message (after the game) was on things we can fix," he said on Sky Sports. "We switched off, a quick tap on a try, the ball's gone through Liam's hands, a scrum penalty and we missed a number of opportunities but those are all things we can fix.

"There are a number of things we can work on and definitely improve. If you look at the tries, they are easily fixable.

"There are no excuses. They deserved to win. The All Blacks were very direct, ran really hard and were better than us at the breakdown.

"We created some chances and shifted the ball well. They didn't come out and play champagne rugby. They dominated us and credit to them."

Gatland, however, refused to be drawn on his early thoughts on his panel for the second test: "It's a bit early to be speculating about (selection for the second test). We have a game on Tuesday that is going to be pretty important and guys will feel like they have an opportunity to go out there and impress."

Stephen Ferris also said that he thought the Lions had "pulled the All Blacks apart at times", and that was a positive that test captain Peter O'Mahony was keen to take into next Saturday's game in Wellington.

 "I thought we had an excellent first half," he told Sky Sports. "We created plenty of chances. We're happy with some of the opportunities but our discipline wasn't where it was at. A huge one to play for next week. We have to recover, regroup and look at that now.

"We were being put under pressure by a seriously good side but we have to be more clinical. We're making good opportunities, we just have to finish them off.

"There was a bounce of the ball for them. We left at least two (tries) out there so I don't think 15 points is a good reflection."

The Lions face New Zealand again next Saturday in the Westpac Stadium, Wellington. Before that, Gatland's squad take on Hurricanes on Tuesday (both kick-offs 8.35am BST).

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