Topic: Rugby

NZ Baabaas leave no stone unturned

By Eru Paranihi

The wait is over and the first match of the British and Irish Lions series takes place, and first up are the New Zealand Barbarians. Tonight also sees a battle between two family members in opposing teams. 

The NZ Barbarians know that it is a rare occasion for Toll Stadium to host big matches. By the time kick-off comes around, there will be no stone unturned 

NZ Barbarians First-Five, Bryn Gatland says, "There's a few things that we need to iron out which is classic "you're in only for a week". The boys have been really training well and are excited."

Dwayne Sweeny also returns to New Zealand after a stink in Japan. The last time the NZ Barbarians played here in 2010, he was on the opposing side playing for the Māori All Blacks. 

Gatland says, "He's an experienced player, and obviously Dad coached him when he was a young guy. Actually, he taught me how to kick when I was 10-years old, and it's a bit funny. So, he's great to play with."

NZ Barbarians Second-Five, Dwayne Sweeny says, "Probably key role for me is that calming influence. It's gonna be loud. The Northland crowd, they're always vocal."

All eyes will be on future prospect Bryn Gatland, whose father Warren is the opposing team's coach. Both are very coy on giving secrets away. 

Gatland says, "Nah he hasn't. I was saying we usually talk a few days before a game that I'll play, or a night before a game that I'll play and he'll sort of just say a couple of tips."

Both the Barbarians coach and captain have every intention of taking the game to the Lions and are well aware of the threat posed by the team made up of four countries. 

Sweeny says, "He mentioned the respect, and I think if we look after the rest of the goals that we've put up, we will get some respect."

With the tour well and truly underway, the All Blacks will be hoping that the NZ Barbarians can soften up the Lions in time for the first test.