George Hooks Lions Video Blog After First Test Lions 21 South Africa 26

By admin · June 21, 2009 · Filed in George Hook's Video Blog




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I agree with you George – yesterday was a major demolition. The last 20 minutes has merely clouded the issue.
Pienaar gave the Lions a lesson on how to run a match from fly half – O’Gara has to come in. I would keep Phillips though, I would worry about the Springbok back row charging at O’Gara without Phillips to keep the tight.
Croft 2 tries has severely muddied the water. He was blown out of the breakdown yesterday, but how do you drop him? Our friend at the Sunday Times has him canonised, surprisingly. Obviously Monye was completely out of his depth and 2/3 of the front row will go. AWJ should go, for someone more aggressive, Shaw you would imagine, with Hines on the bench.
But this won’t change much, they will still lose. Look yesterday at 1-15, man for man, which Lion came out on top? Only the centres and Kearney ahead of Steyn. Ultimately, SA are much better than the Lions, even if the correct team is picked, which would entail:
Out: Monye, S Jones, Wallace, AW Jones, Vickery, Mears
In: Fitzgerald, O’Gara, Williams, Shaw, A Jones, Rees
And possibly Wallace or Worsley for Croft if Williams somes in.
Saturday would be nasty…


Hi.As I’ve never played rugby and don’t know anyone who does I’m sure my questions will be dumb but I’d really appreciate it if you can help me understand a few things about the lions game on Saturday. First do you know why the lions coaches took so long to replace players who were obviously struggling against South Africa? Were they hoping that their game would improve? It seems crazy to me that they waited until the game looked like it was already lost before they replaced anyone.
My second question is about the no.9, Phillips. He seemed slow to pass the ball from the back of rucks but has received great praise for his play. Was there then a good reason for him to do this? It didn’t seem to be helping his team.
Lastly do you think that McGeechan will need to change both his tactics and a lot of the players for the next match?

Hi George. Picking up on your comment about specialist coaches I find it hard to believe that with a Scrum Coach and Welsh National Coach as Forwards coach they got the Meers and Vickery call so wrong. I can’t remember when a prop was so dramatically destroyed at international level. It was painful to watch a player with so much experience demoralised. It’s all well and good giving everyone a go in the prep matches but they knew what they were coming up against. Bismark du Plessis who looks inhuman in size and The Beast. The boks have a front row that would run riot over the current All Blacks. Meers I am sure could barely hold his own and Vickery was eaten alive. Rugby is a basic game. It starts and ends by winning the battle in the tight five. The first test was always going to be the battle ground and the Lions simply had to put a marker down and be physical. The final score is a pot of fools gold for the optimists. I sat there simply thinking what a difference Ferris and Flannery would have made. With a matches under their belt this Bok team will get better as the series goes on. A scary thought.

Hi George,

Totally agree on all points. For the first time I noticed fear on Vickery’s face getting down to engage with the Beast after the first couple of scrums. He has always been a tough competitor but I sensed that He knew that he was beaten after the 2nd scrum. I would have brought on Jones after 20 minutes and worried about sorting out battered egos later. Also Rees has to start as hooker.

Boy Did we miss Flannery and Ferris. We needed those two F’s.

Hines or Shaw have to start for abrasivess with Donnacha again on the bench. He is also a physical competitor and showed up well in the breakdown and tackle count when he came on.

I would leave the backrow alone as we need Croft for lineout especially if Hines or Shaw start, also we need Wally to front up at the breakdown again, but would take off Croft later on switching Wally to 6 giving us two number 7s when Martin Williams and Wally are on for the looser game at the end.
O’Gara has to be in with a shout as Jones kicked poorly, both tactically and at goal. Fitzy would have finished those tries, Lets hope he gets a chance.

Lets Hope that Jakobs is still in the centre as he was only weak link on the Boks. If Fourie takes his place and the Boks don’t empty the bench after 60 minutes it will be a long night but Here’s Hoping that We can have the best season ever for Irish Rugby made even better

Grand Slam – Ireland
Heineken Cup – Leinster
Magners League – Munster
Churchill Cup – Ireland A
Lions Test Series?


ps. Is it too late to send Kidney to Sa to take over? He seems to have the midas touch.

Agree with 80% of your analysis. I’m an England supporter (as my comments below will bear out!) but your thinking on the front row is correct – PV I think has finally gone; sad, but one or two of his comments pre-game(“this will be my last game for the Lions, so I need to leave everything on the field”) left my wondering what he meant given that this is a three-game series; poor bloke is shot, knows it, and should never have been out there.
I would bring in Sheridan and switch Jenkins to tight, unless Beast is actually better than supposed and will also sort out Jenkins in his second favourite position – (which is possible). If so, keep Jones and bring on Jenkins as an impact player – either side of the scrum.
Sheridan to shore up the mauls and the line-out. Shaw for the same reasons. Sheridan is the only player in the pack who is stronger than the Boks; I do not expect him to get much change out of Smit (Jenkins didn’t) but I do think that he will tire him earlier, and like you I think that we have to exhaust the first pick Boks pack as early in the game as possible. I also think that Sheridan will give Du Plessis something to think about in the tight and losse, because he was treating Vickery with derision.
This is the one area that you did not pick up on – I think that once the Lions establsied parity in the tight, the whole Lions performance improved – and this was before the wholesale changes by De Villiers. I believe that the Boks stamina is suspect.
I would stick with the back-row.
I think that you are unfair to Monye; you are right on his football playing skills compared with Fitzgerald and Williams – but, in my opinion, Williams is on walkabout and Fitz is two years too raw for a full-on Lions Test. Monye will be a better player for the two near-misses last week.
Lions to win on Saturday, and prove that the first 60 minutes (which was terrible for the pack) can be put right with the right selections.

Let me re-phrase my comments about Vickery, which having thought about them are unfair on a great servant of English and Lions rugby: it might be that he may have been aware going into the Test that even at full bore now, he is probably only 75% of what he was as a player before some very bad injuries caught up with him; and 75% of your capacity is not going to fill you with self-confidence going into a first Test with the Boks.
Vickery has been a great player for England over the years, but he must make way for Jones (poss Jenkins) for the next two Tests.

Hi George,

Just wondering if you could shed some light on a decision during the game. The first time when Moyne crossed the line and the ball was, in my opinion, correctly adjudged to be held up the ref awarded South Africa a 22 drop out. In my fairly limited experience of watching rugby that usually results in a 5 metre scrum for the attacking team. Just wondering if I missed something or I’m wrong on the usual protocol.