Ronan O’Gara has called for a shake-up of the Lions back division after the emphatic loss to South Africa in the second Test, with Liam Williams and Josh Adams among four changes he'd make for the final game of the series.
Sir Ian McGeechan agreed with the Welsh pair being summoned in the wake of Saturday’s dismal 27-9 defeat for Warren Gatland’s side.
The Lions lost the aerial battle in Cape Town with any number of balls being spilled by red-shirted players.
You can see how the Lions players rated amid a disastrous back three performance here.
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O’Gara, who played 128 times for Ireland and twice for the Lions during a Test career that spanned 13 years, wouldn’t flinch from a major reshuffle for the decisive encounter between the sides next weekend.
Calling for Owen Farrell, Bundee Aki, Williams and Adams to be brought into the starting line-up, he said on Sky Sports: “You select your team to dismantle South Africa depending on how you want to play the game.
“So if you want to put kick-pressure you are going to have to pick people who are good.
“People ask what experience is. Experience is when you get the same situation you do it better the next time.
“For me, you go to really proven competitors.
“So I’m probably looking at (Conor) Murray, Farrell, Aki and Robbie Henshaw, because of the combination — I thought South Africa got a lot of space around the 13 channel today — and Josh Adams.
“I believe he’s excellent in the air, and I’ve had that confirmed by a lot of people who play in the back three over the last number of weeks.
“Liam Williams is world-class in the air, and Anthony Watson just looks deadly every time he gets the ball.
“I’ve completely taken out the hedge clippers and gone after the backline.”
Ex-Lions team boss McGeechan is also expecting significant changes from Gatland as the tourists look to bounce back from a dispiriting team performance.
He believes a change in the second row is needed, with either Maro Itoje or Alun Wyn Jones missing out.
“Liam Williams at full-back, Adams on,” he said.
“It’s a Test match they have to win, so you put your game-winners on.
“Adam has proven that.
“Same up front. It needs freshening. Second row – (Iain) Henderson being around there. I agree on Tadhg Beirne coming in, so you have fresh legs.
“Momentum is with South Africa. The Lions have to get it back.
“Warren Gatland will look hard at the team he puts out next week.
“The set-piece fell away in the second half in particular. Lood de Jager coming on gave South Africa that extra edge with the line-out and with the scrummaging, and they were more accurate with the kicking game and the competition in the air.
“They had control of all the key areas.”
The Lions led 9-6 at the break but fell away badly as South Africa’s bench made a big impact with de Jager giving them three major lineout options alongside Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert.
They also got on top in the scrums and rained down a series of bombs on the Lions which the visitors struggled to handle, with Stuart Hogg, Duhan van der Merwe and Anthony Watson spilling any number of balls.
Former England international Maggie Alphonsi also believes there should be alterations.
“I would definitely make changes," he said.
“I’d take Stuart Hogg off and put Liam Williams on to start at full-back.
“Hogg hasn’t really shown his best rugby in both Tests, and in this one he was targeted and didn’t really handle the ball well in the air.
“I’d actually also probably change Courtney Lawes at six.
“He had a huge impact in the first half, didn’t really show that in the second.
“Someone like Tadhg Beirne would offer you something additional.
“But these guys haven’t played much rugby, and are the ones who are going to come in going to be slightly undercooked for this third Test? I don’t know, but changes do need to be made.”
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