Lions Analysis: John Kirwan talks tactics

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The scrummage is going to be a key area in today's first Test between New Zealand and the Lions. The Lions are going to have a more experienced scrummaging pack so it is very important that New Zealand do not give them any space. At the referee's instructions "crouch and hold", the All Blacks' objective will be to try to get as close as possible to the Lions' front row to defuse the impact when they get the final instruction "engage" from the referee.

The Lions will try to wear down New Zealand at scrum time, and it will suit them if each scrum has to be re-set twice or even three times, because that will have a draining effect on the All Blacks.

The breakdown and the ruck is another crucial area. Neil Back, the Lions open-side flanker, is going to have to have a very good game, and has to make sure he either beats Richie McCaw, his opposite number, to the breakdown, or at least arrives at the same time to nullify his threat. If the Lions' support is a fraction late then they will concede a turnover.

The Lions have to approach the breakdown with the right sort of aggression, what I term "technical aggression".

I think the Lions will use the "squeeze ball" tactic, tucking the ball under their bodies and working it out between their legs when they go to ground, a strategy which would help to nullify McCaw's efforts.

John Kirwan played 65 Tests for New Zealand (1984-94) and coached Italy (2002-05)

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