10 carries and eight tackles, all in the space of 55 minutes against the Hurricanes; Courtney Lawes must be on the radar of Warren Gatland’s ahead of the second test.
However, with some just tipping the Northampton man to make the bench; the lock should be starting the second game against New Zealand in a newly changed engine room.
Former All Blacks captain, Sean Fitzpatrick, does believe the 28-year-old should start the test following his outstanding contribution in the Hurricanes game:
“Lawes would offer an aggressive at the breakdown like no other in that opening 20 to 30 minutes, where the All Blacks build pressure and get their game going.
“If you can stop that, the All Blacks won’t get that momentum and scrumhalf Aaron Smith will be unable to apply the continuous pressure we saw in the first Test.”
Sean Fitzpatrick, speaking to Sky Sports
The physicality and athleticism which Lawes offers is exactly what the Lions need to front up to against New Zealand. With the All Blacks offering such physicality through the likes of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock at 4 and 5, Lawes could match the All Blacks with his offensive approach at the breakdown.
Alun Wyn Jones cut a lost figure during the first-half of the first test; whereas Lawes is the sort of presence and type of player you know is always a strong starter. The player who dominates the tackle area, and would be able to prevent the All Blacks getting over the gain line; stopping momentum and quick ball.
To partner Lawes, Gatland should select fellow Englishman, Maro Itoje. Why the Sarries man was only used as a second-half substitute is wasting away the Lions best player on tour. George Kruis, although played well in the first test, failed with his carrying and ability to match New Zealand at the speed of the breakdown.
This is something which both Itoje and Lawes would execute in a more convincing manner from the go. Despite Itoje’s age of 22 – the youngest player on tour – his leadership and character is evident through the Sarries man calling the lineout, and high levels of communication throughout the 80 minutes.
Itoje is also arguably the best defensive lineout jumper in the world; the 22-year-old would cause major disruption in the All Blacks set piece play.
The pair are a must, in what is a must win game for the Northern Hemisphere side.