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Lions challenged to be world's best pack

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    10 Jun 2017     Getty Images

The All Black-laden Crusaders pack is the toughest the Lions will face outside the Test series, although their ability to beat other Super Rugby packs will be affected by their need to pick Test and non-Test sides after this weekend.

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Former Lion, and forwards coach, Graham Rowntree is ready for the challenge.

"These are the games that we want going into a Test series, playing against a top Super team full of All Blacks. We've had a good look at them as well.

"In my area of the game it's a massive challenge and I've got so much respect for their set-piece, but I trust our guys," he said.

The Lions would not be at Test-strength against the Crusaders but there were enough players with Test experience and who had played in northern hemisphere finals to be up for the challenge.

"It could be a scrum or a maul or, on the flip side, defending those. They're big battle areas in a game and we've got to match them and better them at the weekend," he said.

English hooker Jamie George is starting against the likely All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor and while his 17 Test caps have all been off the bench he was looking forward to the contest.
"It is really exciting and to be going into it with the squad that we are, with a huge amount of experience is really exciting and I can't wait to get into it," he said.

He said the challenge had been made to the Lions forwards to end the Test series as the best pack in the world.

The Crusaders had probably the best set-piece in Super Rugby and the Lions were well aware of the task ahead if they want to be regarded as the best pack in the world.

"That is something we are striving to do and we are building day in and day out, getting better and better and this is a great opportunity to lay down a platform.

"We were very aware of the challenge from the very beginning, New Zealand have been the best team in the world for a long time so in order to come here and win a Test series we are going to have to become the best pack and the best team in the world in six weeks," he said.

TEAMS:
Lions: Stuart Hogg, George North, Jonathan Davies, Ben Te'o, Liam Williams, Owen Farrell, Conor Murray, Taulupe Faletau, Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony, George Kruis, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Tadhg Furlong, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola. Reserves: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Dan Cole, Maro Itoje, CJ Stander, Rhys Webb, Johnny Sexton, Anthony Watson.

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Sam Whitelock (c), Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Quinten Strange, Jed Brown, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Tim Bateman.

MATCH INFO: Crusaders v British & Irish Lions, 7.35pm Saturday 10 June, AMI Stadium, Christchurch