Former All Black Rico Gear believes the Māori All Blacks have the team to defeat the British & Irish Lions this Saturday in Rotorua. Gear was part of the team in 2005 that defeated the Lions 19-13 in Hamilton, which is their only victory to date.
Their style of play is their strength, but could also be their downfall according to this former All Black.
Gear (Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Ngāti Porou) says, “Traditionally Māori rugby, we like to throw the ball around. Is that still going to be the case against a side like the Lions? I think we could be in a bit of trouble if we do that. I think we have to be a bit smarter.”
12 years is a long time between games, but for Gear, being in the environment like it was yesterday.
“I think the Māori team is a team that the boys always look forward to joining. Just because you know you’re going back where you can be yourself. “
The huge turning point of the game was Leon McDonald's try, which would ultimately be enough for the Māori All Blacks to hold on in Hamilton.
“I do remember the phase before it, I think I got bundled into touch, but somehow managed to leave the field of play, and then the Lions had knocked it out giving us the lineout. Then Carlos obviously set up a pretty flash Māori move and sent Leon through the gap. I just remember being in behind him trying to get my hands on the ball to claim that try for myself.”
The former All Blacks winger knows very well of the pressure that these young men are feeling.
“The boys have had a fairly long season so far, so it will just be about getting the prepared mentally. Unfortunately, not too many boil-ups in the week leading up to [the game].
2005 was a historical night for the Māori All Blacks, but there’s no reason why they can’t add another win to match that feat from Hamilton.