Saracens' stars named in Lions team for first Test

Ken OwensHooker

Hansen also dismissed claims by his Lions counterpart Warren Gatland that he was "worried" ahead of the long-awaited first Test between the world champions and the Lions in Auckland tomorrow.

Ahead of the first Test between New Zealand and the British and Irish Lions, who do you think has the edge in the individual head-to-head battles? Together, however, they could just hold the key to the Test should the Lions lineout players do more than simply hold their own.

"We've strangled a couple of sides and we're not going to deny that's been successful but we've also got to have the ability to play".

"A lot of people have speculated about contrasting styles".

"It'll be a physical Test but, just as importantly, it will be a mental test".

"The referee has got the hardest job in the world, I reckon", said Hansen.

He dropped Ireland and Lions stalwart Brian O'Driscoll for the deciding third test against Australia in 2013, which prompted an outcry among media, fans, pundits and from the player himself. You have to accept what their strengths are, and one of our best ways of winning on Saturday is going to be using that defence to suffocate New Zealand's attack.

But he also vowed not to let his players be goaded into deserting the suffocating tactics that have underpinned their potent wins over the Crusaders, Maori All Blacks and Chiefs.

If the Lions win on Saturday, it will end New Zealand's 23-year unbeaten record at Eden Park, and while that statistic says everything about his players' degree of difficulty, Gatland has no intention of becoming pre-occupied by it. In isolation, for example, New Zealanders will probably regard Jamie George, George Kruis, Jones, Itoje and O'Mahony as inferior to their All Black equivalents. "I've coached against him for a long time and he's always a bloody handful when you're playing against Ireland". "You would hope he [Foley] would be proud".

"He played rugby really well for the Blues when given the opportunity - not the same in the Maori game, when he didn't get many opportunities". Ben Te'o, 11. Elliot Daly, 10.

If the Lions can not be expected to forego the running game, the All Blacks also can not be under-estimated at set pieces. He's been brilliant and fully deserves his shot. That doesn't guarantee to win the thing, but it does guarantee that your attitude is right, and we know that if our attitude is right and we get our clarity right, then we are a good side.

O'Mahony will lead the team into Saturday's first Test with the words of mentor Axel Foley ringing in his ears: be yourself.

The 27 year old is expected to line up versus New Zealand as a blind-side flanker to counteract the Kiwi threat at the breakdown.

"He's fantastic under the high ball and he is so quick". That becomes a team responsibility and is fundamental to what our success will be based on.

"To beat the All Blacks you have to be courageous and play some rugby - you have to score tries and I think we have picked a team capable of doing that", he said.

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