Lions stars of past and present assess New Zealand tour


The British and Irish Lions touch down in New Zealand on Wednesday ahead of a 10-match tour that includes three Tests against the All Blacks.

Warren Gatland's side do not have much time to acclimatise before getting their campaign underway against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei on Saturday.

The first Test against the All Blacks will be at Eden Park on June 24, with a trip to Wellington following a week later before the series closes back in Auckland on July 8.

Ahead of the tour commencing, Omnisport spoke to a number of past and present Lions who offered their thoughts on how the series will go and where it will be won.

Martin Johnson: "We have a chance. It's probably tougher than winning the World Cup as you only have to beat them once in the World Cup but twice in the Lions tour. You'll go down as the Gods of the game if you beat those guys. They're legends. It's worth the effort and the sacrifice needed."

Owen Farrell: "I remember touring [New Zealand] in 2014 with England and there is obviously a massive following for the All Blacks over there and the whole country gets excited about it. Having seen and having been involved in one tour myself you see how people get behind the Lions squad as well - it should be brilliant."

Rob Andrew: "Rugby's just everywhere in New Zealand, they hate losing to anybody anywhere in the world, but particularly at home. So it's the ultimate test I think and when you're trying to pull together a group of disparate players who've never played together, that adds to the challenge and makes it more difficult, but that's what Lions tests are all about. It'll be a real cat and mouse game and I suspect the way Warren plays and the way he's picked the squad, they're not going to take New Zealand on at their own game. They're going to try a Lions-type power, forward-strength game, which whether that's right or wrong is a matter of opinion. It will be down to results in the end."

James Haskell: "New Zealand are the best side in the world because they continually improve. Everyone in their country wants to be an All Black and that helps. They have side that everybody wants to play for and hopefully we'll be able to catch them."


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Mako Vunipola: "New Zealand is the hardest place to go on tour and they've been the number one team for many years. It will be a great challenge."

Gavin Hastings: "I was disappointed with the itinerary, because that's not what the Lions tour is about. It's not about breaking the guys; it's about taking a brand rugby to the far outposts of New Zealand. But, in terms of the Lions actually having a chance to win a Test series, if they were to come through those games relatively unscathed, then my goodness, they're going to be ready for Test match rugby. I genuinely believe we can really attack them at scrum time, I think we've got a really powerful scrum. I don't think Warren's going to change his tactics all that much, they call it Warren ball, but I just believe that's just going to be the way it is. I don't think it's going to be free flowing, open rugby from the Lions."

George Kruis: "If you're going to beat the All Blacks you might as well do it the hard way. It's going to be an epic challenge."

Brian O'Driscoll: "The Lions have a chance. It's exciting times but it's going to be tough. I think the Lions can win a Test and two on a really good day."