Little left to chance as Lions head to New Zealand


"New Zealand's rugby history has become the stuff of legend, and with the upcoming DHL New Zealand Lions Series, what better time to celebrate the country's rugby prowess".

Coach Warren Gatland has been holding choir practice in camp for the last couple of weeks, and on Sunday night, led by captain Sam Warburton, they revealed their work.

Here, we look at their record in New Zealand.

Dressed in much more casual lightning bolt sweatshirts were Ireland captain Rory Best and England centre Jonathan Joseph.

However, Hansen says he would have wanted longer to prepare a tour party overseas, and told The Times: "You'd want to be there a week at the minimum".

"Because the Lions is so different, you have to give the players the chance to show what that they can show in different combinations". "Their influence on New Zealand rugby can't be under-estimated", he said.

"I don't think anybody's going out there just to take part, everybody's going out there to win and that's the way it should be". We'll get over there and we'll see [the rest of] you when you get here.

We just hope that it won't be the last time we see them, because some of those club owners would do away with the Lions at the drop of their ten gallon hats.

The All Blacks coach wasn't surprised by the naming of the Lions squad, but doesn't expect an easy series.

"The option you've got is for the sake of the team".

Only once has a Lions team returned triumphant from a tour against the Kiwis.

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"That helped lay the foundations of the All Black side that won the 1987 World Cup and that style of counter-attacking play we have seen from the All Blacks ever since".

A Lions tour once every 12 years is one of the most anticipated sporting events in New Zealand, where rugby is regarded as a national religion and the three Lions Tests were sold out long ago.

There has been a degree of caution about any injured All Blacks, but the team for the first test should still be very strong.

The Lions have prepared four songs, one from each of the represented nations, and will use them to respond to their hosts.

"It is a devastating decision to make from a personal point of view, but like Billy, I knew it was the right one", added Quinnell, part of Sky Sports' team covering the Lions tour.

Hansen has also attempted to do the impossible, and defend All Blacks fans.

The quake carved wide fissures in the playing surface and caused irreparable damage to its Deans and Hadlee grandstands, named for two of Christchurch's most famous sporting families. That will bolster them and push the Lions even harder.

The days are long gone when the Lions tramped around small provincial towns to be greeted nearly as beings from another planet by locals who would only have otherwise seen glimpses of them on newsreels.

The teams' first meeting resulted in victory for New Zealand in Wellington. "The Lions are still going to have to play a bit to win the series and they will have to be smart".

Jones feels the Welsh influence in the coaching staff and tactics will play into New Zealand's hands. If they come to that First Test tactically and technically in good shape and free of injury, that's the important thing. Two of the Tests are at Eden Park where the All Blacks have not lost in the professional era. As a player, it is not daunting but challenges you and can be a mental barrier for the opposition.