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Tuesday 25 July 2017

'Tadhg Furlong is a world-class scrummager': prop Crockett

Tadhg Furlong of the British & Irish Lions during the match between the Maori All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo: Sportsfile
Tadhg Furlong of the British & Irish Lions during the match between the Maori All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo: Sportsfile

For The Lions to have any reasonable shot at glory in the first test, they will have to gain the upper hand at the set-piece against the awesome All Blacks.

At the lineout, this will mean maintaining the Saracens symmetry between hooker Jamie George and caller George Kruis.

This will be allied to the athleticism of Maro Itoje and the X-Factor agility of Peter O'Mahony.

In the scrum, the responsibility will rest across the broad shoulders of the front row of Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Tadhg Furlong.

This would enable The Lions to take control of the ball and, thereby, the pace of the game.

The mechanics of the scrum are rooted in the role of the tight-head to keep The Lions stable, straight and up.

From there, the optimum return is to either power through or force the loose-head down and out of the contest. The All Blacks duties at loose-head will probably be shared between The Crusaders Joe Moody and Wyatt Crockett.

"He's a world-class scrummager," said Crockett about Furlong.

This observation was given further support by the contribution of Dan Cole to The Lions win over The Chiefs yesterday.

It clarifies for Furlong how the shirt is his for the first test. There is no guarantee, therafter.

The general opinion was The Lions had the edge on the Super Rugby leaders in Christchurch, even though Graham Henry disputed this observation.

Disruption

It seemed the only disruption was caused by Moody's tactic to drive up in under and across Furlong when he got nowhere by any means legal.

"We knew that going into the game that they were going to be strong up front with a strong starting 15 and a strong bench.

"It was a good old tussle," noted Crockett. "I've propped and scrummaged against a lot of those guys before and it just confirms a few things.

"We'll study it and hopefully we will make some improvements to see how it goes."

Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Crockett and Sam Whitelock will be joined by Brodie Retallick in the front-five for the first test at Eden Park

Typically, Crockett embraces the opportunity to show what New Zealand have learned from The Crusaders fall guys.

"I'm excited to go up against them again," he said.

"A lot of people have been kicking the boot into the Lions.

"But, we knew that they were going to be tough and they'll just keep getting better.

"It makes for a good Test series."

While New Zealand are far from a wounded animal, their front-five will have to break even or they could be broken down.

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