(Reuters) – Over-training before the first and the final tests against the All Blacks cost the British and Irish Lions the chance to win the three-test series in New Zealand earlier this year, Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien has said.
After losing the first test 30-15 in Auckland, the Lions inflicted a rare home defeat on New Zealand to level the series in Wellington a week later, before a 15-15 stalemate in the third test on their return to Eden Park.
O’Brien, who played all three matches, said a triple training session ahead of the first test and a similar schedule before the decider had ruined the Lions’ chances of victory.
“I think we should have won. With the players we had, we should have won the series,” he said on the Off The Ball sports podcast on Ireland’s Newstalk radio station.
“The first week we definitely over-trained on the Thursday and maybe the coaches were panicking a little bit about getting the information into us.
“On the first week (of the first Test), we had a triple day, lads’ legs were heavy on the Thursday and we were playing the All Blacks on Saturday.
“We did nearly a similar thing in the last week. So maybe it’s more (from) a coaching point of view, in terms of taking lessons. Less is more sometimes on a tour like that, rather than trying to pick things up at the end of the week.”
O’Brien criticised backs coach Rob Howley for not conveying his messages clearly and said fly-halfs Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell had stepped up to take charge.
“Rob struggled with the group in terms of his attributes of trying to get stuff across, whereas Johnny and Owen drove everything the second week,” he said.
“The coaches have a lot to answer for in terms of our attack rather than Johnny and Faz trying to drive it. I think we should have won 3-0 with the players we had.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)