John Smit: The Lions have a chance in NZ

John Smit (Gallo Images)
John Smit (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Springbok captain John Smit believes the British and Irish Lions are in with a shot at winning the series against the All Blacks.

The Lions have started their tour to New Zealand on a stuttering note - sneaking a 13-7 win against an underrated New Zealand Barbarians outfit, before coming unstuck against the Blues in Auckland, losing 22-16.

Smit, who led the Springboks to a 2-1 series win over the Lions in 2009, shared his thoughts on SuperSport’s TMO rugby programme on Wednesday night.

“We shouldn’t get too worked up with results we’ve seen so far. We have to understand that it gets quite tough coming off a season, getting into a (rugby mad) country like New Zealand,” Smit said.

“They (the Lions) haven’t been together (for long). The first two games were going to be tough. The first one they just managed to win. Against the Blues they were up against a team that’s been together for three of four months...”

Smit doubts that Lions coach Warren Gatland will pick his best side before the first Test in Auckland on June 24.

“I just wonder if Gatland hasn’t selected his best combinations to try and make the All Blacks a little more confident than they already are before the Tests start," Smit said.

“I think this is one of the really good Lions sides that’s got a really good chance. They’ve got good players.

“I think Gatland will be smart and keep his best combinations back (for the Tests). It’s interesting that he hasn’t played (Owen) Farrell at 10 (flyhalf) yet. My gut feel is that when we start seeing Farrell at 10, that’s when we’ll start seeing that first Lions (Test) combinations coming into play.”

The Lions' next match is against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday (kick-off 09:35 SA time).

WATCH the full interview with Smit in the video below:

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