Austin Healey calls for Warren Gatland to drop Lions star
Austin Healey has called on Warren Gatland to drop Lions skipper Sam Warburton for the series decider with New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Healey said: “Most people’s first instinct would be to keep the same team for the third Test. If you have beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand then surely you deserve another crack? I’m not so sure I would buy this.
“New Zealand we know are going to be an awful lot better, not least if they play with 15 men for the full 80 minutes.
“The challenge for Gatland is to find a way of matching or bettering that improvement. Does he trust those same players to deliver that or does he make changes?
“In my opinion he should roll the dice. This may sound like heresy but I think he should replace Sam Warburton with Justin Tipuric.
“I don’t think Warburton had a bad game, but he was not at the level that Sam Cane was.
“Certainly he did his best to get to as many breakdowns as he could and he was slightly slowing down the ball before he tired in the last quarter
“Tipuric is that bit fitter and faster. Defensively he barely misses a tackle and that extra speed would create both attacking and turnover possibilities.
“It would be a huge call to go with a different captain for the third straight Test but that may be the difference between winning a series.”
Healey is also calling for the Lions to try and get Wales’ Taulupe Faletau more into the game after the Tongan-born No.8 bagged one of the Lions that downed the All Blacks in Wellington.
“Apart from his try, which he finished superbly, I thought Taulupe Faletau had another very quiet game,” added the former Leicester Tiger.
“The score aside I cannot recall many or any of his involvements. Coming into the Test series, he had been one of the Lions best players in the tour matches, but playing the All Blacks is a big step up.
“Unlike with virtually every other position, there isn’t really an alternative at No.8.
“CJ Stander just doesn’t make enough yards and they chose to take another flanker, James Haskell, rather than a specialist No.8 in Nathan Hughes, when Billy Vunipola was injured.
“I don’t want to appear overly critical of Faletau because on his day he is a fantastic player, I would just like to see more of him.
“We just have not seen enough of him picking up from the base of a breakdown or scrum and rampaging down field.
“Somehow Gatland needs to find a way of getting him into the game more because he is the type of player who just needs one big carry to really start firing.”