England display was crucial to O'Mahony Lions call-up

So while Fitzpatrick believes the Lions have the squad to do the job in New Zealand, they will need to be at the peak of their form in order to stand chance.

Mains said in the end he was picking a whitewash by the All Blacks as they had an astonishing crop of players at the moment and a tremendous culture within the team.

The Lions picked the itinerary along with New Zealand Rugby but Mains said in reality the visiting side had little choice but to agree to a tour which includes three tests, five matches against the Super Rugby franchises and also a game against the New Zealand Maori.

But one of the most notable absentees is England's New Zealand born captain Dylan Hartley, who led England to successive Six Nations titles earlier this year.

With Murray's absence now much longer than those usually associated with a stinger injury, Lions coach Warren Gatland has revealed to the Irish Independent that Murray will miss this weekend's game, with the injury complicated with a nerve issue.

"At the same time I felt I wanted a bit more than just being part of a squad, a late call up to a squad and all of that".

"There are a number of people who are playing very, very well who haven't been All Blacks, and there are a number of All Blacks who are playing well".

"I will speak to the coaches, speak to the players and see what they're expecting from me".

England beat the All Blacks
38-21 at Twickenham in 2012 while Ireland pulled off a stunning 40-29 victory against Steve Hansen's men in Chicago last November.

England display was crucial to O'Mahony Lions call-up

England captain Hartley has been omitted this time and his global understudy Jamie George set to travel.

"I think Saracens have been masters over the last period of time of playing the game in front of them, no matter where they are playing".

Andy Farrell has underlined the importance of belief when the British and Irish Lions tackle New Zealand this summer.

Yet there are some significant absentees, the most notable of which sees their captain Hartley overlooked in favour of his global understudy Jamie George, who travels as one of three hookers alongside Rory Best and Ken Owens despite never having started a Test.

Hansen is expected to rely largely on his established squad, for the opening Test at least, though Meads (below) says some of those who featured for the All Blacks past year need to be wary.

"It's not going to be like Australia in 2013 when we arrived in Melbourne and people were saying, "Who are the people wearing red jerseys?" The fact that the ball gets out wide makes us look good.

We know there's going to be all sorts of emotions, ups and downs, and who can deal with it.

"When I looked at it, and I looked pretty closely at the Glasgow-Saracens game, there were some pretty strong performances there by the Sarries". You have also got young (George) Ford missing out.

  • Julie Sanders