'Winning is the thing' - Warburton

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Lynn McConnell     01 Jun 2017     Getty Images

Speaking at the side's opening press conference in Auckland on Wednesday, Warburton said it was all about winning at this level.
Tries might make games more spectacular for fans, the media and all but he would take a win first, no matter what rugby was played to achieve it.

He backed coach Warren Gatland's comment that it might be necessary to lose one of the non-Test games in order to win a Test.

"It is all about the Test series. These games, they are important you win them and you do get a good feeling in the camp when you do win games but realistically we have to realise that these next three weeks are big learning weeks for us, getting combinations together, from a forward's point of view getting our processes right at lineout time, at scrum time which is going to take a little while to develop," he said.

"Ideally we'd love to win each of those games but so long as we are getting better and better after each fixture then that's good."

Warburton said it was nice to finally be in New Zealand, there had been a lot of talk since the start of the northern season and it would be good when the first game was underway on Saturday.

The games started coming through thick and fast after that.

"Whilst you don't have a lot of time to think about the games coming up as you would in a normal week from Monday where you prepare all the way through to Saturday, you actually enjoy these games a bit more because they come so quick and you don't have so much time to think about them.

"Once that first game gets underway then the tour feels like it's all guns blazing and I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Warburton will lead the side against the NZ Provincial Barbarians on Saturday and said he was pleased to be playing the first game. In Australia on the 2013 tour it was the third game before he played.

"You just want to get that Lions' jersey in your kitbag and actually say you've played for the Lions on this tour and obviously I'm desperate to be involved in that first game," he said.

Warburton said he had been pleased at how quickly players were picking up the team's plans, especially those who had been involved in club finals over the weekend.

Technology was being employed with apps on their phones and information via their laptops and tablets and information was being passed to them all the time. There was no excuse for not being prepared, he said.

Manager John Spencer said the overnight stopover in Melbourne had achieved the benefit expected and it had been scheduled on the advice of the team's medics. It allowed them to land there, at a relevant time which allowed the side to get six or seven hours sleep in a proper bed before the three-hour flight to Auckland.

"I think it has been of great benefit to the boys," he said.

Warburton said he had enjoyed the travel process and said jet lag would definitely not be an excuse on Saturday.

Spencer also commented on the nature of the tour schedule. It was set by New Zealand Rugby as per the contract between them and the Lions. But it was a fact that it would be pointless coming to New Zealand to play the world champions and to prepare to meet them by playing against mediocre opposition.

"Playing Super Rugby sides is exactly what the coaches want to prepare the side for the Tests. The only thing we are disappointed with, on the domestic side, is the preparation time we are given," he said.