Good squad but pressure on Lions: Hansen

Elliot Daly

Elliot Daly

Anxious his team will be underdone, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is likely to give his side a warm- up match against Samoa on June 16.

The former All Blacks captain finishes with a word of caution to both test sides.

Gatland's squad will be aiming to become just the second Lions party to win a Test series in New Zealand, with the combined side's lone series success against the All Blacks coming in 1971 - when tour manager John Spencer, the former England global, was in the squad.

"The team comes first, it's not about Sam Warburton, and that was definitely one of the reasons that made it easy for me to select him as captain". 'You pick players who can do the job you want them to do and play the style of game you want to play'.

"They've got enough good players there".

England's 2003 World Cup-winning boss Sir Clive Woodward stated his approval over the choice of Sam Warburton as captain, writing on Twitter: "Congrats all those selected @lionsofficial, especially @samwarburton_, definitely correct choice and what an opportunity for all of them". I don't think he offers the same type of game as the others. Those are the sort of players, with no disrespect, who might struggle to make the first test team but they will be giving everything they can on and off the field. He said: "They are huge men, some of the forwards are really very big but they might be a bit soft".

"Lima (Sopoaga) will come back and he's a very good goalkicker".

"There's always going to be surprises with some people being selected and some people not being selected and that comes down to people's opinions, doesn't it?" said Hansen. He is expecting Gatland's side to play an uncomplicated game in the test series in keeping with Gatland's standard operating procedure.

"I wanted to see his response and he just said "outstanding, I'd love it, it would be awesome". We have to perform away from home, that's going to be paramount". You can't get access to the players. "You will see Ben carrying strong up the middle a la Jamie Roberts for years for Wales".

"Steve Hansen knows these players and he'll know there's a massive challenge". But Gatland, whilst accepting there were many debates and perhaps some unfortunate players, has stressed this is the right team to take on the All Blacks.

Gatland, unusually for the Lions, indicated that his captain's place in the team was not a given. But we know how tough it will be - this is the toughest tour. Australia is obviously a lot bigger and there are so many more sports there. "They'll have to do that well", said Hansen.

"When you look at the half-backs Wales, Ireland and England have and in terms of the schedule you've got running into our prep, I think when you play together you've got a natural combination".

"When it rang "Gats" and I answered and didn't hear anything, I just hung up because I thought it was TJ (James) messing around".

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