The British & Irish Lions travel to Waikato Tuesday to take on the Chiefs, their final warmup game before Saturday’s first Test against the All Blacks.
This is the part to the tour where the team risks fracturing into two, those who are part of the Test squad and the midweek crew. This possibility may not be helped by the controversy surrounding the call up of certain players to bulk out the squad by Lions coach Warren Gatland.
The players picked to start against the Chiefs now know, by and large, they are not part of Gatland’s thinking for the Test starting team. This could be a crushing disappointment to some. Their professionalism will be tested.
And it’s not like these players are facing a weak team on Tuesday. The Chiefs are currently ranked the third best NZ franchise in Super Rugby, sixth overall, and have only lost two games all season. It’s true they will be missing their All Black squad members, but this is a side which has won the Super Rugby title twice in the last five years.
That said, the Lions pack still looks a strong group of eight. With the Saturday players suggesting that tight forward play is the way the Lions are going to approach the Test series, we look for the midweek team to take a similar approach. We will take an each way punt on captain Rory Best scoring the first try (probably from a line out rolling maul).
Recommendation: Best to score the first try at 20/1, 0.5 pts each way, Paddy Power
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