Lions 2017: Why the All Blacks will tame the Lions

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There is no bigger challenge in rugby union than doing battle with New Zealand in their own backyard.

That is the task the British and Irish Lions are gearing up for, with the first of three Tests against the world champions taking place at a packed Eden Park on June 24.

Not to mention the six matches Warren Gatland's men have before stepping out in Auckland for the series opener and another against the Hurricanes prior to the second Test in Wellington.

The Lions have not won in the union hotbed of New Zealand since 1974 and were consigned to a whitewash the last time they toured 12 years ago, so they will be up against it when they take on Steve Hansen's side.

Here is why New Zealand ought to tame the Lions once again.

 

FORMIDABLE HOME RECORD 

You have to go back to 2009 for the last time the All Blacks were beaten in a Test on home soil, South Africa claiming a famous win in Hamilton.

The world champions have since taken on all comers, proving to be simply too good for their rivals and firmly establishing themselves as the best side on the planet.

It is not just at home where they prospered; a sensational loss to Ireland in Chicago ended a record run of 18 consecutive Test wins - which England have since matched.

Normal service has been resumed since that setback, as Italy, Ireland and France felt the force of New Zealand.

 

STRENGTH IN DEPTH

Captain Kieran Read is among the injury concerns for Hansen ahead of the Lions series with after breaking his thumb, but New Zealand have a seemingly endless conveyor belt of talent to call upon.

The All Blacks lost Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Ma'a Nonu after retaining the Rugby World Cup in England two years ago, but have made a seamless transition in a new era without such inspirational players.

Fly-half Beauden Barrett has stepped into Carter's shoes to become the World Player of the Year, demonstrating the strength in depth that Hansen can call upon.

Dane Coles is another key man battling to be fit, yet the All Blacks have such a huge amount of hungry talent waiting in the wings that even the loss of key men may not prove to be costly.

 

DEMANDING SCHEDULE WILL TAKE ITS TOLL

The Lions have already lost one of their main men to injury in the form of Billy Vunipola and there surely be more setbacks to come before they lock horns with the All Blacks.

At the end of a long, gruelling season for club and country, the tourists face an itinerary which former New Zealand and Lions coach Graham Henry described as "suicidal".

They will face top quality Super Rugby franchises, with players looking to make a name for themselves under the spotlight, and the Maori All Blacks will take no prisoners.

Gatland could find himself without several players who were named in a 41-man squad last month when he comes to pick his team for the opening Test.