Scott Robertson said no.
Then he paused and chuckled.
The Crusaders coach had been asked if the Lions had surprised him with any of their play. He was later asked if he thought the British and Irish side would’ve worried All Blacks coach Steve Hansen with anything they did in their 12-3 win in Christchurch.
Same response. No.
The Lions did against the Crusaders what we all expected of them from the start. They had an okay scrum, good lineout, drove the ball and ran hard in the backs. They tackled well and kicked their penalties.
It won’t be enough to beat the All Blacks. Not by a long shot.
That’s not jingoism talking, it’s history and numbers.
The All Blacks have lost three of their last 40 games. Ireland outscored them five tries to four to win 40-29 in Chicago last year; Australia scored three tries to the All Blacks’ two to win 27-19 in 2015 and South Africa matched them with three tries each to win 27-25 a year earlier.
The last time the All Blacks didn’t reach double figures was the 8-7 win against France in the World Cup final in 2011.
In their last 20 games, the All Blacks have scored 826 and conceded 302. That’s a winning margin of 41-15.
The Lions will need to score tries (because rest reassured the All Blacks will) and they have struggled to date.
They got one against the Barbarians and another against the Blues, who scored three. Saturday night’s scoreline was the old ‘divide by three’ cliché for northern hemisphere teams.
That’s with 58 per cent of the ball, 62 per cent territory, having made nine clean breaks, six offloads, with 127 carries and having won the ball from nine turnovers.
The All Blacks won’t be so wasteful.
As good as the Crusaders have been in Super Rugby, they aren’t the All Blacks.
Sure, they have an All Blacks tight five, but even that pack is significantly better with the additions of Brodie Retallick and Dane Coles (though we know he will miss at least the first two tests).
It’s what is behind the pack that will hurt the Lions. Conor Murray was outstanding against the Crusaders, but the All Blacks have three halfbacks just as good.
Then there’s a backline that could feature Beauden Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Julian Savea, Israel Dagg and Ben Smith.
That back three has scored 96 test tries. Savea has crossed for 45 of those in 52 tests.
On the evidence to date, the All Blacks will have too much firepower for the Lions.
The combination of halfback Murray, first-five Owen Farrell and second-five Ben Te’o were superb for the Lions and will almost certainly line up against the All Blacks at Eden Park on June 24.
Equally, the pack has the look of the basis of a test eight, with Taulupe Faletau again impressive at No8, George Kruis strong in the lineouts in combination with Jamie George, and Sean O’Brien giving Warren Gatland all sorts of headaches at openside flanker.
Sam Warburton is the tour skipper but O’Brien was fantastic against the Crusaders
George North, Anthony Watson, Jonny Sexton and Liam Williams created half chances but the Lions’ inability to convert those into points must be a worry for Gatland.
Not that he’s prepared to admit.
“Tonight was another step up but still for us a lot to work on,” Gatland said, adding it felt like the Lions were in their preseason. “The more time on the training paddock and the more games together, the better you get and it’s certainly felt like that.
“This is great preparation for us preparing to play the best team in the world, the All Blacks, in two weeks’ time.”
Robertson reckons there’s not much that will catch Hansen and the All Blacks on the hop.
“Tough, brutal, loved the set piece, slowed the game down when they could, took their opportunities, turned you around, everything we expected.
“They didn’t surprise us; they were just bloody good at what they did and played over the top of us. We had opportunities, but we didn’t take them.”
The All Blacks won’t make that mistake.