Lions will be predictable says Hansen

If replacements are required, though, it will help geographically and logistically that Wales are on tour in New Zealand and Samoa next month while Scotland are in Australia, so reinforcements would not be too far away.

In the next game, just three days later, which promises to be a fast-paced affair at the indoor Forsyth Barr Stadium, the Lions will take on the Highlanders, who are on their own nine-match winning streak. Welshman James had never coached his national side, but his innovation proved the backbone of a dogged 2-1 Test series victory.

The All Blacks go into camp right after the Crusaders match against the Lions on June 10.

The upcoming tour will be the shortest ever by a full Lions team to NZ, unless you count the five matches tacked onto an Australia trip in 1904, and that's down to the club owners, but I can't imagine the club owners will be any happier, given the relentless standard of opposition.

It had been a decade since the Lions had last visited New Zealand, with the Ian McGeechan-coached team departing for our shores with expectations on them to inflict some revenge for the 1983 4-0 clean-sweep.

But England back Farrell, a Wigan St Patrick's product, was typically forthright about the belief among the Lions, who must topple the sport's dominant force in partisan conditions and turn the 2005 whitewash emphatically on its head.

He said: "If majority are not playing, what's stopping them getting on a plane now with most of the squad, for example?"

One of the most famous shots from that tour was of Fitzpatrick and Lions captain Gavin Hastings - each wearing the other's match jersey- embracing post-match.

"I'm grateful for the support of the rugby department in getting this out, and the support of my Kiwi colleague Tim Dale who made the programme with me". Everything is stacked against the Lions and the first Test is absolutely huge - if they win that one, it is game on.

Scott Quinnell admits he knows exactly how Billy Vunipola feels, after the England No 8 was forced to admit defeat and pull out of the British and Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand.

Just under 24 hours before they left Heathrow for New Zealand, the 2017 British & Irish Lions met as a complete group for just the second time. Refusing to be intimidated, captain Willie John McBride devised the call of "99', upon which all Lions players would flood into retaliation en masse".

New Zealand are clearly wary of a coach with such an intimate knowledge of their psyche and system.

Warburton was the best backrower in the Six Nations and is bang on form to take on Sam Cane and give Lions some parity at the all-important break down.

First-choice hooker Dane Coles also remains under a lingering concussion cloud, but Hansen has said he expects most of his players to be available. Of the nine previous Lions tests on the ground, the visitors have won just once, in 1959. The warm-up games and lead-up games are for the Test series.

New Zealand secured a 3-1 series triumph.

He already knows what it is like to beat the legendary men from the land of his birth after being part of Ireland's historic victory over the back-to-back world champions in Chicago last autumn.

  • Julie Sanders