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Defence key for Lions against All Blacks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/05/2017

Andy Farrell accepts that defence will be "a massive part" of the British and Irish Lions' game as they prepare to tackle world champions New Zealand.

Lions assistant coach Farrell, who helped plot Ireland's victory over the All Blacks in Chicago last November, is in charge of that key aspect.

And he knows how big a challenge lies ahead across the three-Test series, given New Zealand's try-scoring prowess.

"We all know the strike-rate of the All Blacks as far as their attacking game is concerned," Farrell said.

"Their try-scoring record is fantastic. I think last year it was double the team in second place for tries scored, which says a lot about their type of game.

"Their percentage conversion rate is fantastic, so we know defence is going to be a massive part of our game if we are going to have a chance in the series."

Lions training numbers were boosted to 30 from 14 after last week's training get-together in Wales, and Farrell is delighted with the quality of work done building towards next week's tour opener against a New Zealand Provincial Barbarians XV in Whangarei.

"We expected a few less numbers than what we've had," Farrell added.

"We have been able to create more advancement with our plan, going forward. To get a few more half-backs in and organisation stuff with the ball in hand has been great for us.

"The intensity was there, as you would expect, and the competition was there, as you would expect.

"This morning's session, we tried to disorientate the players a little bit, put them in pressure situations, difficult scenarios, and they handled it very calmly under extreme pressure. The quality has been outstanding."

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