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Lions get warning ahead of NZ in 2017

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Sportal.co.nz     22 Jul 2013     Getty Images

In The Rugby Paper columnist Nick Cain warns that the selection mistakes made by the lions in Australia would not have gone unpunished in New Zealand.

Cain said: "My hunch is that if the 2013 Lions had gone to New Zealand with the weaknesses that became apparent in Australia - flaws that the Wallabies were unable to exploit - they would have been losers rather than winners.

"The most obvious example is the scrum. Eventually, a superior scrum was the core factor in the Lions' triumph, and at the heart of it was the superb job done by Dr James Robson and his medical team to get Alex Corbisiero fit for the Sydney Test."

However, Cain said, that for all Corbisiero's work the fact was he did not make the initial selection for the tour and he was flown in from England's tour of Argentina as a replacement. He was bemused why the selectors had not called up Andrew Sheridan from the outset when a replacement was needed.

"My belief is that had Sheridan been called in as cover and started in Melbourne [second Test], then the Lions would have stood every chance of clinching the series 2-0. In addition, had he come off the bench in Brisbane [first Test] the Lions would not have had to rely on a [Kurtley] Beale slip to win the first Test," he said.

While Lions captain Sam Warburton dismissed defeatist talk of the Lions' prospects in New Zealand in 2017 as 'total rubbish', Cain said there was a reason the Lions had such a poor record in New Zealand.

"New Zealand is the most difficult tour of all," he said.

"Unlike the six weeks Warburton's side spent in Australia, where the wall-to-wall coverage of Aussie Rules and Rugby League ensured they were not the only game in town, the whole of New Zealand will be focused on the tour.

"The Lions are the enemy, and behind the 'Kiaoras' and smiling welcomes there will be a hard-bitten desire to see the best of British and Irish brought to their knees and given a thorough kicking (metaphorical, of course).

"The old adage for visiting international players is that until you get the recognition of the New Zealand public, you are an also-ran. The sense of All Black rugby superiority is ingrained, and the idea that the 2017 Lions are something special will be eroded from the momenthy they set foot in the land of the long white cloud," Cain said.