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Irish prop Furlong lauds All Blacks pack

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/06/2017 Angelo Risso

Tadhg Furlong who will face the New Zealand All Blacks in first test, faces the media during the British & Irish Lions media session in Auckland, New Zealand. © David Rogers/Getty Images Tadhg Furlong who will face the New Zealand All Blacks in first test, faces the media during the British & Irish Lions media session in Auckland, New Zealand. British and Irish Lions prop Tadhg Furlong says a pair of encounters with the "perfect" All Blacks in 2016 has helped him come to grips with what awaits in Saturday's first Test.

The 24-year-old Irishman started in both November Tests against the world champions last year, as Joe Schmidt's troops secured a landmark 40-29 victory in Chicago before falling 21-9 at home two weeks later.

For the Leinster-based Furlong, it opened his eyes to Kiwi rugby's quality.

"We had a lot of players that had played against New Zealand, lost to New Zealand multiple times, and when they talk in team meetings and previews, you're kind of looking into a black hole," Furlong said.

"I didn't really know what to expect - you're on edge because, you know, (the All Blacks) can cut you up at any stage.

"From an experience point of view, personally, those two Test games probably have helped me on what to expect."

Owen Farrell (L) passes the ball to team mate Elliot Daly as Tadhg Furlong and Dan Biggar (R) look on during the British & Irish Lions training session. © David Rogers/Getty Images Owen Farrell (L) passes the ball to team mate Elliot Daly as Tadhg Furlong and Dan Biggar (R) look on during the British & Irish Lions training session. Furlong will start at tighthead for the Lions at Eden Park, opposed by a familiar foe in All Blacks loosehead Joe Moody.

Having pushed his way into Lions selection with an impressive 12 months for club and country, Furlong has gone on to dislodge Dan Cole from the incumbent tighthead role and ward off the challenge of Kyle Sinckler.

He said there was no greater occasion in which to prove himself, facing off against one of the most fearsome packs in world rugby.

"You can see on opposite scrum ball - the cohesion they have as a pack, their timing on ball entry," Furlong said.

"From a coaching and technical point of view, it's perfect - technically, physically, emotionally, we're going to have to be up for the game.

"It's for us to give the backline (space) to play off."

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