BLAKE Austin’s selection on the wing was not the reason Great Britain lost the second Test against the New Zealand Kiwis in Christchurch, but it remains the talking point.

The squad’s lack of depth in the centre and wing department was obvious to all at the point of announcement, so how could one of the greatest coaches rugby league has seen – and the advisors around him - get it so wrong.

Warrington Wolves stand-off Austin started his first ever game of professional rugby league on the wing on his Great Britain debut, and it just beggars belief despite the performance he gave for Wayne Bennett.

A winger’s role in today’s game is just as specialised as a half-back’s or any other position on the field, so to do the job under pressure against one of the best teams in the world is an unenviable task.

READ: Bennett tells why he feels this new Great Britain team has gone backwards

The veteran coach included six half-backs in his initial 24-man squad but only two wingers and one recognised centre, and with tour-ending injuries to Ryan Hall and Oliver Gildart as well a training injury for Zak Hardaker they've been caught short.

So Austin got the nod and play to the Wire marquee man, he put his hand up to do the job and gave it his best shot in the 23-8 loss at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch.

He did some good things in the game, especially clearing his lines with drives around the ruck early in sets as his pace and footwork caused some of the big Kiwis forwards problems.

And he was praised by Bennett for being, alongside John Bateman, the stand-out performers in the Lions side.

But understandably, the 28-year-old got some things wrong as well.

Nervously dropping the first high kick that came his way, under no pressure, in the third minute did nothing to prevent the avalanche of pressure that was going to come down his side of the field for the rest of the game.

The ball was allowed to bounce too often from another kick and although he rescued the situation by diving on the ball in a scramble with Kiwis defenders it just invited further trouble.

A winger’s try went begging in the final throes of the game when Austin was unable to catch the ball on his bootlaces from a Jackson Hastings grubber kick.

As it was with that, the result was already over and it therefore had little impact, though things could have been different, that could have been a deciding factor in the game and in that situation you want an experienced finisher on the field.

Austin is at fault for none of this, of course. He just wanted to play for Great Britain and gave his all in a position that is alien to him. And in the circumstances he found himself in, he probably did a better job than most could in the same scenario.

Great Britain were defeated over 80 minutes because of their failure to control the ball, playing too much of the game at the wrong end of the field and doing far too much tackling.

But you do have to question whether this game was won before the kick-off even took place.

Psychological warfare is huge in rugby league, and the Kiwis would have taken a huge lift from knowing Austin was to step in as an emergency winger, playing outside another regular stand-off in the shape of Hull’s Jake Connor at left centre, while in the right-centre slot making his Great Britain debut was Warrington back-rower Jack Hughes.

The target areas were handed to New Zealand on a plate and they did not miss, making the most of the inexperienced combinations in the Great Britain defensive line.

The returning Shaun Johnson joined fellow half-back Benji Marshall in dominating the game on the back of the momentum gathered by an eager pack who simply knew there was rewards to be achieved on the edges if they got their donkey work done down the middle.

Joseph Manu’s opening try in the 12th minute came from Marshall and Johnson putting him between Austin and Connor, and with two penalty kicks from the building pressure too it meant the Kiwis led 10-2 after 29 minutes.

Confidence was now oozing out of the Kiwis and fleet-footed Johnson dummied and scythed through the Lions line to extend the lead to 16-2 by half-time.

The first try of the second half would be crucial and the game was put to bed when Marshall’s stunning miss-out pass in the build-up allowed Ken Maumalo to acrobatically dive over in the corner for a killer score.

A late offload from Salford’s Josh Jones allowed Canberra’s Josh Hodgson to go over for GB’s only try five minutes later, with Warrington-bound Widdop adding the conversion.

But there was still a mountain to climb at 20-8.

The Lions enjoyed their best spell of the game in the last 20 minutes and finally started to complete sets and force their hosts into working overtime in defence.

John Bateman was fingertips away from getting on the end of a Widdop grubber that could have made the game interesting again in the 65th minute.

Warrington Wolves fans would have also been pleased to say a precise cross-field kick from Widdop that Connor was unable to retrieve in an aerial battle but could be a lethal weapon in conjunction with Toby King at The Halliwell Jones Stadium next season.

Moments later a drop goal from Brisbane’s Jamayne Isaako ensured there would be no last-gasp heroics from the Lions.

Now, the Lions will head to Papua New Guinea for their final game of the tour on the back of three defeats and the Kumuls fancying their chances of sticking the boot in.

Their players will be feeling a foot taller and a few kilogrammes heavier for next Saturday’s battle in Port Talbot, and they will have a highly excitable crowd behind them.

It can be an intimidating place, the kind of experience many of the Great Britain players have not tasted before, and a whole new challenge is about to present itself.

Could this be the first ever Great Britain team to return from a tour without a win?

The finger of blame will certainly be pointed at Bennett, rather than his players, if that happens.

It already is - a week before his England head coach contract runs out.