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'He's a brick of a man' - The toughest Lions player Jerome Kaino ever faced

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Steve Bardens/World Rugby via Getty Images)

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Having played over 80 Test for New Zealand, All Blacks enforcer Jerome Kaino has faced the best the sport has to offer.

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The 38-year-old, who yesterday had the pleasure of lifting the Heineken Champions Cup in Twickenham, is among a select group of players to have faced two separate British and Irish Lions tours as a player.

A young Kaino faced the Lions way back in 2005 for the Auckland Blues. “I remember playing against the Lions for Auckland and coming off the bench. It was like playing for the All Blacks.

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Episode 30 – Jerome Kaino and Jamie Roberts, European Champions Cup Final Preview and All Blacks v Lions Memories
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Episode 30 – Jerome Kaino and Jamie Roberts, European Champions Cup Final Preview and All Blacks v Lions Memories

“We in an Auckland hotel and the ‘Barmy Army’ were singing outside. The good thing about it was when we came out, everyone was cheering us as we walked out to the bus.

“I’ve still got Martin Corry’s jersey from that game. That was quite special me. I made it a goal to make the All Blacks for that series but I wasn’t good enough but to be able to experience that and play against the Lions, that was awesome.

Twelve years later in 2017, the big back row would play a pivotal role in the drawn Test series. One of the more brutal moments was when Kaino injured Irish flanker Sean O’Brien with a massive cleanout that ended O’Brien’s game at halftime.

“I think Seanie was just in an awkward position. I just got him in a sweet spot.

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“I felt bad for him after the game and went and saw him. He was in a sling. He’s a good lad, I felt bad for him.”

While his battle with O’Brien was one to savour for fans, Kaino choice as the ‘toughest Lions player he ever faced’ is a frontrower.

‘”Maro was pretty tough,” said Kaino. “But I’d have to say someone that kept on coming was Mako Vunipola. He has no hand brake, he just keeps on going and going.

“Loves to get the ball in his hand. To try to stand in front of him and get a shot on him is impossible. He’s so solid. He’s a brick of a man.

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“He’d be up there as the toughest in the Tests that I played.”

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