Beating the All Blacks is never easy, so it’s perhaps surprising to find that over a quarter of Warren Gatland’s starting Lions XV for the first Test against New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday has achieved just that.
1. Tadhg Furlong – Ireland 40-29 New Zealand, 5th November 2016
Confirmation of his arrival as the first choice Ireland tighthead, Furlong impressed everyone with his powerful display against the All Blacks at Soldier Field in Chicago. This was probably the game where people started earmarking him for a Lions squad place and now we’re here and he’s a deserved starter in the first Test.
2. Owen Farrell – England 38-21 New Zealand, 1st December 2012
The fly-half kicked three penalties and four conversions for England against New Zealand. He gained universal praise for his performance with many saying he outshone his opposite number Dan Carter with the Guardian writing the Sarrie looked more like an IRB world player of the year nominee than the Kiwi.
3. Conor Murray – Ireland 40-29 New Zealand, 5th November 2016
The performance which led to Murray being widely considered the best scrum-half in world rugby. He directed his pack around the park while scoring a try, which he created by grabbing bouncing ball above all others, from a lovely, sneaky dummy. Warren Gatland will need this sort of performance again from the Irishman at Eden Park.
4. Mako Vunipola – England 38-21 New Zealand, 1st December 2012
Vunipola also played in 2012 but it wasn’t a great day for the prop individually. Replacing Alex Corbisiero after 66 minutes, Vunipola spent 10 of his 14 minutes on the field in the sin bin after receiving a yellow card. He still beat them though, ha-ha.