British and Irish Lions 2017: Backs support play 'frustrates' wing great Shane Williams


Centre Ben Te’o took a big step towards a starting Lions spot with a series of impressive breaks against Maori

Shane Williams says the British and Irish Lions need to be more clinical in attack if they are to beat New Zealand.

A week before the first Test at Eden Park, the Lions beat the Maori All Blacks 32-10 in Rotorua.

But ex-Wales and Lions wing Williams says the tourists wasted opportunities.

“It frustrates us all, because you’ve got the likes of Ben Te’o getting over the gain line for fun at the moment, but players aren’t getting on his shoulder,” said Williams, 40.

“I don’t think the Lions are playing that expansively, it’s a bit disjointed the way they’re attacking and that’s why players like wings Anthony Watson and George North aren’t playing big parts.

“We’ve got potent attackers in the team but at the moment we’re just not using them.

Wales wing Shane Williams played for the Lions in 2005, 2009 and 2013

“You’d like to think that’s going to come, but it will be frustrating because line breaks are being made but the tries aren’t being scored.

“Three points here and there against the All Blacks isn’t going to win, you have to score tries.”

However, former wing Williams, Wales’ record try score with 58 from 87 appearances, said the comfortable win over the Maori was a welcome result for Warren Gatland’s squad, with just Tuesday’s game against the Chiefs to come before the three-Test series begins.

“The lads played well in patches and job done really,” added Williams, who played in 2005 the last time the Lions toured New Zealand, as well as in 2009 and 2013.

“A few issues keep cropping up, the same problems: discipline and perhaps too many turnovers than you’d like to have, especially against the All Blacks.

“However, second half they tightened it up a little bit, came away with two tries – perhaps should have scored others – but a win’s a win.”

One aspect of the Lions’ play that particularly pleased Williams was the dominance shown by the forwards.

Lock Mario Itoje scored one of the Lions’ two tries against Maori

“I remember speaking to Gatland when they selected the squad and he said he wanted a big front row that could try and dominate the All Blacks,” Williams said.

“That certainly was the case in Rotorua, that’s probably as close to the [Test] front row as you’re going to get, perhaps hopefully getting Ken Owens in there at hooker with the likes of Tadhg Furlong and Mako Vunipola.

“They dominated up front in the scrum, the line-out was very effective and when players like Ken and Jack McGrath came on they kept the dominance.

“There are a lot of positives to take out of the game, the minuses they just have to work on a little bit… but they have a short space of time to do it.”

The tour schedule

Lions tour
3 June Provincial Barbarians Won 13-7
7 June Blues Lost 22-16
10 June Crusaders Won 12-3
13 June Highlanders Lost 23-22
17 June Maori All Blacks Won 32-10
20 June Chiefs
24 June New Zealand
27 June Hurricanes
1 July New Zealand
8 July New Zealand

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