Hooker Best inspired the men in green to their first win over New Zealand last November, the famous 40-29 success at Chicago’s Soldier Field showing Steve Hansen’s men are human.
With the Lions now laying down their blueprint for their three-Test tour of New Zealand, head coach Warren Gatland could do worse than take the lessons from Ireland’s success. But Best believes they can’t simply copy Joe Schmidt’s masterplan for success.
“We had a belief we could win. We had a shorter week – three training sessions before we played them – and we had that belief,” said the Ulster hooker.
“It was all about going out to attack. This modern-day All Blacks side is so difficult to beat, they have so many attacking weapons and they will always score tries. We found out a couple of weeks
later in Dublin that if you do not score tries against them, they are very hard to beat.
“You have to put pressure on them. That is key, otherwise they will do it to you because this is the highest level.
“There is more than one way to skin a cat, but whatever way we go, it is important everyone buys into it and adds something. Maybe we will do it slightly differently to Chicago.”
Gatland has had 14 players at his Lions training camp on the outskirts of Cardiff this week. With 27 still on club duty in domestic and European play-offs, time is against him as he bids to lead the first successful Lions tour of his home country since 1971.
An injury to hooker Ken Owens is the latest problem for Gatland to deal with, but the Lions remain confident they can topple the mighty All Blacks. Team sing-songs, brutal fitness sessions and meals out as a group have defined their first few days together.
“New Zealand are back-to-back world champions, to beat them will be very hard because they are the best for a reason,” Best said.
“To beat them as national side is difficult, but to come together as a best of four nations will be a real challenge. I have had career highs and lows, but to go on this tour and achieve something will be very special.
“They are beatable. Warren has said it from the off, we don’t want anyone on the plane who doesn’t believe we can win. The Irish guys have done it and we have players in this squad who are used to winning – that can only help.”
There might only be 14 Lions in camp, but that hasn’t stopped those in attendance being put through their paces. Gatland’s men have been woken early for gruelling 7.30am altitude fitness sessions, followed by rugby drills away from prying eyes.
With 16 days until the tour opener with New Zealand’s Provincial Barbarians side, time is of the essence.
“It has been enjoyable, but quite strange to meet players you have been playing against for a few years,” said Wales back-row forward Ross Moriarty.
“It is a step up, but some people only get one chance at this so nobody will be holding anything back. If you push yourself to the edge, the rugby becomes easier.”
Moriarty is rooming with scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, who is leading the Lions’ team-room karaoke, and added: “I am not too good at singing, but I will give it a go, like most things. Greig is enjoying himself singing and all the boys are getting into it – it’s great fun.
“We all have our song sheets and you will get hear them soon.”
Source : EXPRESS