The excitement around the Lions’ arrival to the shores of Aotearoa has been building steadily since the end of RWC15.

With just 18 days until the first match in Whangarei, the crescendo is almost upon us.

The only time the Lions have toured New Zealand in the professional era was their ill-fated jaunt of 2005. Not to reopen old wounds, but the question is where do you even start to analyse that tour?

Dejected Lions fans at the end of the Carter masterclass in Wellington. COPYRIGHT: FOTOSPORT/DAVID GIBSON
Dejected Lions fans at the end of the Carter masterclass in Wellington. COPYRIGHT: FOTOSPORT/DAVID GIBSON

No matter which way you slice it, the 2005 Lions represented the nadir for the brand in the professional era. On the other hand, the 2005 All Blacks were just beginning a long journey. This long journey culminated in back-to-back World Cups!

The All Blacks celebrate after winning the 3rd test match between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday 9 July, 2005. Photo: Hannah Johnston/PHOTOSPORT
The All Blacks celebrate after winning the 3rd test match between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday 9 July, 2005. Photo: Hannah Johnston/PHOTOSPORT

I am sure there will be a lot drawn from the 2005 tour as the days and weeks pass, but I would prefer to ask other questions and stimulate debate. The sort of debate that has been rife here in The Shed at The 1014 for some time now… Namely, in a hypothetical world what would an All Blacks/Lions starting XV look like, drawing on players that have appeared in the professional era?

Does anyone come close to the great Christian Cullen? Was O’Driscoll’s Lions legacy guaranteed with the solo run of the century in Brisbane, or was it unhinged by winning a mere 2 of 8 tests played for the Lions? Where does Jonny sit in the pecking order? And how do you select a Number 6 from the undoubted resources?

What now in this hypothetical world?

Over the next 17 days I will put together how we in The Shed, far from the action see it.

This will culminate on Friday 2nd June with The 1014 Professional Era All Blacks Lions First XV.

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Author: Steven Prescott

I am a total sports fanatic; it is as simple as that. I love all sports, and when I’m not sitting at my computer living my dream with The 1014, I am planning adventures. The last time I did this I ended up convincing my wife to cycle 26,125km across three continents, and 22 countries with me as part of the Pedalling Prescotts.

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