Lions will have to take their chances - Burger

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    08 May 2017     Getty Images

Burger, who is now playing his rugby in England's Premiership, told The Rugby Paper the Lions had a very good squad and would have a lot of belief.

"New Zealand is a rugby nation that respects teams that fulfil the challenge of playing against the All Blacks.
"Often teams go there and a lot has been said, but they do not fulfil the challenge," he said.

Having tasted success against the All Blacks, in New Zealand, Burger said it was the occasions when the Springboks had put them under pressure that they did best.

"It will be tough to beat New Zealand – history shows it. That's why the first Test is very important. The Lions have got a brutal schedule – and that will be where the team will be tested.

"Sometimes it's not just picking the best players, but the best team," he said.

The side would need to settle quickly against New Zealand franchises that would be up for the challenge.

However, he didn't think the lack of preparation time would be the disadvantage some had claimed.

"The good thing when you have so much talent at your disposal is that, like Barbarian sides, if you get the right players in the right positions, they instinctively do the right thing. So, if you get the team culture right, the rugby 'sense' can come together quickly," he said.

The Lions also knew what they were in for because the All Blacks were a known quantity.

"You know the All Blacks are not going to change, because it's a style they've played for the last 15 years. That's the easy part.

"What a lot of people under-estimate – because they see the beautiful tries, skills and offloads – is how physical they are.

"New Zealand pride themselves on how good their set-piece and lineout is, and a kicking game of recent times that has bossed the rest of the world," Burger said.

"The Lions would be foolish to think they will play New Zealand at their own game [and win] but this team, like South Africa, will have inherent strengths, and you have to take the bull by the scruff of the neck and play rugby.

"The biggest difference between South Africa and the All Blacks in the recent past is just how good they are at taking their opportunities.

"The Lions are going to create opportunities, and if they convert them they will put the All Blacks under pressure. But we know also that if the All Blacks create six opportunities they will put four of them away. It's never easy, and it won't be for the Lions – but Warren Gatland knows the culture well enough. I can't wait to watch it," he said.