British and Irish Lions: Jake White claims the first Test will decide the series
Last Updated: 18/06/13 2:20pm
Brumbies boss Jake White believes Saturday's opening Test between the British and Irish Lions and Australia in Brisbane will be crucial to the outcome of the series.
The Lions are bidding for a first series triumph since beating South Africa 16 years ago, and they have never lost to Australia in Brisbane.
And former South Africa coach White feels that Saturday's victors will not be overhauled.
"Do I think they (Lions) can win? I would say it is all based on Saturday," White said.
"Whoever wins the first Test is going to win the series. If the Lions lose on Saturday I think there will be hell because they have banked on the fact that with their preparation they would have a head start.
"The Wallabies have also said they need to win in Brisbane. It's all or nothing for Saturday. Whoever wins this Test will win the series."
Warren Gatland's Lions face the Brumbies on Tuesday for their final tour match ahead of Test series following five successive victories that has seen them score 261 points and 33 tries.
And White added: "I think it is a really special, talented Lions team.
"I missed out on the 2009 tour after I finished with the Springboks, but if you compare that 2009 side with this one then this one is much better. They are better prepared and the players have been picked on form.
"Warren Gatland has been successful with Wales, the dominant figure in the northern hemisphere, and there are so many positives for the Lions this time.
"Warren hasn't beaten them (Australia) in the last few years, but he has come very close and been brave enough to play the southern hemisphere sides more times than most northern hemisphere coaches have done.
"If anyone is equipped to win this series then it's Warren Gatland by what he has done in the last couple of years."
The Lions' strength in depth is underlined by the fact that back-row to face the Brumbies - Sean O'Brien, Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau - are all unlikely to make Gatland's opening Test team.
And White has voiced his admiration for workaholic Ireland flanker O'Brien, who has impressed throughout the trip so far.
"The one chap who has impressed me is O'Brien, I think he has been fantastic," White said.
"He would make most other teams. He goes under the radar, doesn't say much, but he can play rugby.
"They are quality players and they have made it quite clear they want to go unbeaten on this tour. So wherever their players have come from, they will want to buy into that mission."