(Reuters) - The British and Irish Lions will take a leaf out of Ireland’s playbook and try to needle and knock the All Blacks off their stride when the sides meet in June, forward Iain Henderson has said.
Ireland played a high tempo, physical game to disrupt New Zealand and run out 40-29 winners in Chicago last November in a victory that sent shock waves around the rugby world.
Henderson, who missed Ireland’s first win over the world champions in 111 years due to a shoulder injury, said disrupting New Zealand’s free-flowing rugby would be key to beating the hosts.
“The boys over in Chicago got under the All Blacks’ skin,” Henderson told reporters during a Lions’ training camp at Cardiff.
“They made them cough up a loss... The boys got in their faces and disrupted them from their usual game. It will be what we’re looking to do out that there, not beat them at their game but at our game.”
New Zealand avenged the defeat 21-9 in Dublin two weeks later but Henderson, who featured in that game, said the loss still revealed areas where the Lions could hurt the All Blacks.
“The All Blacks, as talented as they are, have weaknesses which can be exposed,” he added.
The Lions start their 10-match tour against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei on June 3. They open the series against the All Blacks at Eden Park, Auckland on June 24, travel to Wellington for the second game on July 1 then return to Auckland for the third test a week later.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford