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British and Irish Lions 2017: Neil Jenkins wary of All Blacks backlash but will leave motivation down to the players

The Independent logo The Independent 5/07/2017 Jack de Menezes

© Provided by Independent Print Limited Neil Jenkins knows what it takes to win a Lions series. The former Wales international was part of the 1997 side that clinched a 2-1 victory over South Africa, and he was also on the coaching staff four years ago for the triumph over Australia. However, both of those successes will be trumped if the Lions can find a way to beat the All Blacks this Saturday.

The 45-year-old, who started all three Tests in 1997 at full-back, is the kicking coach on what could be the first British and Irish Lions touring party to leave New Zealand with a series victory in the bag since 1971. That would require the Lions to do what no side has managed to do the All Blacks since August 2009 and beat the All Blacks in consecutive matches, the last team to do that being South Africa.

“I did ask that question earlier,” Jenkins said on Wednesday. “[The] boys are eating barbed wire from Saturday onwards probably.

“Very rarely do they [New Zealand] lose, and very rarely do they lose at home. It’s a humongous game.

“If we can play the way we want to play, well it’s going to be incredibly tough.”

If the Lions can achieve the almost-impossible and beat the All Blacks for the second time in a week, this current squad will go down in history as one of the all-time greats. The problem is that beating the All Blacks is easier said than done. Jenkins is fully aware of this, having never beaten New Zealand during his career.

In times gone by, the Lions have drawn inspiration from pre-match speeches. This outpouring of emotion from the likes of Jim Telfer, Sir Ian McGeechan and Paul O’Connell have been part of what makes the Lions so special, with videos from the past becoming the stuff of legend when it comes to the team’s history.

image © Provided by Independent Print Limited image However, there may not be a repeat this time around. Head coach Warren Gatland will of course address the squad before the third Test decider this Saturday, but there is unlikely to any special shirt presentation.

Former Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll presented the jerseys ahead of the first Test, but Gatland decided not to repeat the ceremony ahead of the triumphant second Test, and as a result there is unlikely to be another over the next 48 hours.

“You’ve got the utmost respect for players that have worn the jersey in the past,” Jenkins added.

queenstown.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited queenstown.jpg “Drico’s [O’Driscoll] a god of a rugby player, for Ireland and the Lions. But sometimes it’s all about yourself, what you’ve got in that room as well. That’s what it came to last Saturday, and it will be the same this weekend too.

“It’s a huge, huge Test match on Saturday, the boys know that, they know what’s at stake.

brian-o-driscoll.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited brian-o-driscoll.jpg “So it’s looking around the room, knowing what you’ve got in there, that there’s a world-class player on your shoulder, left and right, and pushing yourself forward every single second.”

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