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Watson ready for New Zealand hype

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    21 May 2017     Getty Images

He was here in 2014, with England, playing in Christchurch against the Crusaders and taking a try home as a reminder of the experience.

"I remember a horse charging on before the game and it was an awesome atmosphere. You knew you were in a rugby country when you turned on the television and there was a schoolboy game on," he told The Guardian.

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"In some areas, people were cheering for us and in others they were telling us how much we were going to get battered by. You have to be prepared for both, I guess, but that stuff does not bother me.

"A Lions' tour marks the pinnacle as a player and you have to embrace the challenge, playing to the best of your ability when you are given a shot. We know how demanding it is going to be, in the warm-up matches as well as the Tests, and we have had a few tough training sessions this week to get us into shape," he said.

Well used to tough training since Eddie Jones took over as coach of England, Watson said one session under Warren Gatland during the week was among the top five of the hardest training sessions he had ever done.

"Everyone is here to embrace those opportunities which take you to where you want to reach and we all bought into it, from altitude bikes early in the morning to units and a lot of running-based stuff. It is early days but Warren is different from Eddie: he analyses a lot and takes stuff in, giving you good feedback," he said.

Watson had an injury affected campaign with England in the Six Nations appeared only twice coming off the bench against Scotland but starting against Ireland. He was concerned he might not have been able to show enough form to win selection.

But having been chosen he got an early reminder of what he can expect in New Zealand.

Former All Blacks captain Todd Blackadder is his club coach at Bath.

"When I was named in the squad he said he was really happy for me but would not be cheering me on," he said.

Of the 14 players able to participate in last week's training Watson said: "All the backs and the forwards have been around the computers trying to pick up the plays as fast as possible and everyone has bought into the Lions' ethos…The tour will be about implementing our tactics: we know they are good but we will try to dominate them.

"Having been there before, I know what to expect, even if it will be hyped up to another level. We want to be able to perform under any circumstances. Whatever they throw at us, we will be ready," he said.