Warburton to lead Lions in New Zealand tour opener

Laidlaw hailed head coach Gatland's status as a series-winning Lions boss, in the wake of a warning over coaching style from Eddie Jones.

The Lions went on to claim the four-test series with a tense 14-14 draw in the final match at Eden Park, and Wyllie, who was the All Blacks' No.8 in three of the four games, agreed that the Canterbury firestorm may have galvanised the tourists.

The British & Irish Lions touched down in New Zealand this week as they prepare to take on the might of the All Blacks.

Asked if his squad could shock this country, if not its feared and revered Test team, he said: 'That's hopefully the whole plan. We'll just face up to it. 'There's no doubt it's important that we get the tour off to a good start.

Go figure. These freaky sporting arrangements are an accident of a history that left them behind long ago - both the Lions tour and the united Irish rugby team pre-exist Ireland's independence from Britain.

"I'm hugely excited about it".

"I mean, Doug Smith, their manager, he sorted out their media and our media with what happened".

Former England prop Vickery - a veteran of 78 Test caps - represented the Lions in 2001 and 2009, either side of their last visit to New Zealand in 2005. It probably sums things up, you know.

"You can't ship too many points coming down to this part of the world, because all New Zealand teams love to play that high-tempo game, score tries, play off turnover ball".

"In the past the All Blacks have tended to concentrate on themselves, they haven't anxious too much about who they're playing against". That's completely up to them. "We've all gone through losses and all bounced back from them so it wouldn't be the end of the world, but the number-one priority is to win".

"The flip side of that is the Lions will also have plenty of traffic down the throats of Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton". "He knows he's under... he knows he needs to get some games under his belt". I've got no doubt he'd want a good performance from himself on Saturday. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

The first of 10 Tests takes place this Saturday against a New Zealand Barbarians side in Whangarei in the North Island.

"The statement, first of all is a win", said Gatland.

Gatland is also conscious of the need for diplomacy in his homeland - "You've got be very careful about what you say; as a Kiwi, if you're critical of New Zealand, how isolated we are". He worked hard at work making a video with Fionn Ging and the rest are the current U14 players at Portlaoise RFC at the clubs grounds in Togher.

There's sufficient loose forward depth to cover most of Read, Kaino, Squire and Todd: Akira Ioane and Brad Shields are playing well in Super Rugby, and Ardie Savea has made a seamless move from seven to eight.

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