Sean Maitland has urged the British and Irish Lions to join rugby’s immortals by inflicting a defeat on the All Blacks that will send New Zealand into mourning.
Warren Gatland’s men have defied all expectations to take the series to a decider and know victory at Eden Park this morning would bring a triumphant conclusion to the most challenging tour undertaken in the professional era.
New Zealand-born Scotland wing Maitland, below, who travelled to Australia with the elite of British and Irish rugby in 2013, insists a Lions victory would have repercussions for both sides.
“If the Lions can do it...everyone is using the word ‘immortals’ and immortals are exactly what they’ll be,” he said.
“If the All Blacks lose there will be a backlash from the public, 100 per cent. Rugby there is like football here – it’s massive and part of the culture.
“Here you see people playing five-a-side football, back home it’s five-on-five touch.”
Maitland is convinced the Lions can prevail and believes New Zealand’s injury-hit three-quarter line could be a weakness to be exploited.
“There will be extra pressure on the All Blacks after they lost the second Test. It’s Kieran Read’s 100th game and they’ll want to do it for him,” Maitland said.
“No one has given the Lions a chance so to see them tearing it up is great. They can do it, 100 per cent. Anything can happen.
“Confidence is sky high after last weekend. New Zealand have a great record at Eden Park and that could be at the back of their minds, but if they get their tails up...
“New Zealand’s back line is quality but they’re young and the experience isn’t there. Ben Smith, Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty are massive losses.”