Belfast Telegraph

British and Irish Lions: Seize your chance to make history, blasts Jenkins

 

By Jack de menezes

Neil Jenkins knows what it takes to win a Lions series. The former Wales international was part of the 1997 side that clinched a 2-1 victory over South Africa, and he was also on the coaching staff four years ago for the triumph over Australia.

However, both of those successes will be trumped if the Lions can find a way to beat the All Blacks on Saturday.

The 45-year-old, who started all three Tests in 1997 at full-back, is the kicking coach on what could be the first British and Irish Lions touring party to leave New Zealand with a series victory in the bag since 1971.

That would require the Lions to do what no side has managed to do since August 2009 and that is beat the All Blacks in consecutive matches, the last team to do that being South Africa.

"I did ask that question earlier," Jenkins said yesterday.

"(The) boys are eating barbed wire from Saturday onwards probably.

"Very rarely do they (New Zealand) lose, and very rarely do they lose at home. It's a humongous game.

"If we can play the way we want to play, well it's going to be incredibly tough."

If the Lions can achieve the almost-impossible and beat the All Blacks for the second time in a week, this current squad will go down in history as one of the all-time greats. The problem is that beating the All Blacks is easier said than done. Jenkins is fully aware of this, having never beaten New Zealand.

In times gone by, the Lions have drawn inspiration from pre-match speeches. This outpouring of emotion from the likes of Jim Telfer, Sir Ian McGeechan and Paul O'Connell have been part of what makes the Lions so special, with videos from the past becoming the stuff of legend when it comes to the team's history.

However, there may not be a repeat this time around. Head coach Warren Gatland will of course address the squad before the third Test decider in Auckland, but there is unlikely to be any special shirt presentation.

Former Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll presented the jerseys ahead of the first Test, but Gatland decided not to repeat the ceremony ahead of the triumphant second Test, and as a result there is unlikely to be another over the next 48 hours.

"You've got the utmost respect for players that have worn the jersey," Jenkins added. "Drico's a god of a rugby player. But sometimes it's all about yourself.

"It's a huge, huge Test match, the boys know what's at stake.

"So it's looking around the room, knowing what you've got in there, that there's a world-class player on your shoulder, left and right, and pushing yourself forward every single second."

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