Graham Henry says the British & Irish Lions have the weapons to employ an expansive game plan against a Qantas Wallabies side he reckons will be at their very best this summer.
The Australian media have labelled the Lions ‘slabs of red meat’ in relation to the size and strength of so many of Warren Gatland’s selections but the man who led the last tour to Australia 12 years ago believes there is far more to the current crop of tourists than just a big physical presence.
“I think the Lions can play. I think they’re going to get a foundation by getting the ball over the advantage line and they’ll then have the numbers,” Henry told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I’m sure they will play – Warren will want to do that.
“There’s some exciting backs there to use the ball. They’ve got an exciting team there who can play an attacking brand of rugby.”
Henry expects the host nation to provide a stiff test for the class of 2013, however, especially as he has been impressed by what he’s seen in Super Rugby so far this season.
New Zealand’s World Cup winning coach is convinced that the fine form of so many of the Qantas Wallabies’ star names will transfer on to the big stage this summer and that the inconsistencies of late 2011 and 2012 are a thing of the past.
“Australia are going to be a lot stronger than they have been in recent times because they haven’t had the injuries of last year,” added Henry.
“There’s a huge excitement in Australia about the forthcoming Lions tour and you can see that in the performances of their Super XV teams. The Brumbies and the Reds are towards the top of the table and playing some great stuff.
“There’s always a confidence about the Australians. They are looking the best they have looked for a number of years.
“That’s what Lions tours do – they get the group of players excited; they haven’t played against them before and they’re desperately keen to be selected, so they’re looking in good shape.”