Jim Kayes

Jim Kayes has been covering rugby since the late 1990s across print/online, radio and television with The Dominion Post,, TV3 and Newshub, Radio Live and Radio Sport.  He's been to five World Cups, covered almost 200 All Blacks Tests and was on safari with the Lions when the British and Irish side last toured New Zealand, in 2005.

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Lions series 2005 remembered

Getty Images     23 Feb 2017     Getty Images

Yes the “tackle” by All Blacks skipper Tana Umaga and hooker Keven Mealamu early in the first Test became the talking point. It certainly dominated the build up to the second Test. It is a huge pity the incident ruled the Irishman out of the tour and became the distraction it did. It was, perhaps, a convenient way to ignore the Lions’ failings in the first Test because as good as the All Blacks were in Wellington, they were superb in terrible conditions in Christchurch.

That opening Test was played in swirling rain and occasional hail yet the All Blacks were outstanding with Ali Williams to the fore as he plundered the Lions lineout and scored a magnificent lock’s try from one of 10 steals that night. Then, in the cold and wet, the All Blacks backs ignited for Umaga to put wing Sitiveni Sivivatu away for a try and a convincing 21-3 win. The Lions were as good as finished in the Tests.

With their eye off the ball in the build up to the second Test, while the All Blacks were super keen to atone for the bashing their captain had taken in the media throughout the week, it’s little surprise the Lions were smashed in Wellington.

The 48-18 scoreline was the first time the Lions had conceded more than 40 points in a Test and Carter finished with 33 of them, scoring in every way possible. That was the series won and it was inevitable the All Blacks would complete a whitewash with victory in the third Test at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Though the Lions failed to capture New Zealand rugby hearts during their time in New Zealand, the games were good, and competitive. The Lions were pushed in every match expect the romp against Manawatu – and they were beaten in an historic night in Hamilton by the New Zealand Maori.

Despite the off field drama around O’Driscoll, this was a hugely successful tour. It proved New Zealand could cope with the huge influx of Lions fans and that helped New Zealand Rugby convince the Home Unions to support it’s bid a few months later to host the 2011 World Cup.