Stuart Barnes Explains Why Warburton As Lions Captain Is A Huge Mistake
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Stuart Barnes reckon the Lions stand no chance in New Zealand if Sam Warburton is made captain.
The outspoken pundit and former England outhalf says the only way to beat the All Blacks is to starve them of possession and keep hold of the ball. Warburton does the majority of his best work without the ball says Barnes.
In his column with The Times, Barnes writes, in order to take it to the All Blacks- Gatland’s back-row should include Stander/Faletau, Tipuric and Vunipola.
“Warburton is a fine player. A good man. These are not the issues. It is the nature of his game,” wrote Barnes.
“He will defend until the last man drops in New Zealand. But more will be needed against the best team in the world. And Warburton doesn’t possess that extra ingredient.
“The Lions will not beat a team as good as New Zealand by making a thousand tackles. The higher the tackling stats, the greater the margin of defeat.”
Barnes cites the third Test against Australia in 2013 as a perfect example. Warburton was replaced by Sean O’Brien, which represented a move from ‘defensive heroism to match-winning attack’
“With a new openside flanker in the ball-carrying Sean O’Brien, the Lions were dominant. Their injured skipper wasn’t missed. Playing far more on the front foot, the need for tackling and turning over the opposition was negated,” wrote Barnes.
Warburton simply isn’t a ball carrier according to Barnes.
“Warburton is not a natural with the ball in hand, not a comfortable ball carrier,” says Barnes.
“The more the Tests play to the significant strengths of the Cardiff Blues man’s game, the more it is likely to guarantee victory for New Zealand.”