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Watson to embrace everything on Lions tour

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/05/2017 By Andrew Baldock

Anthony Watson wants to embrace everything about the British and Irish Lions - from playing to singing - on the looming New Zealand tour.

Bath and England star Watson is among more than 20 first-time Lions in a 41-man squad tasked with beating the world champion All Blacks across a three-Test series, plus seven other games that include five fixtures against Super Rugby opposition.

Only once before - 46 years ago - have the Lions returned triumphant from All Blacks territory, and Watson is determined to grasp everything about a six-week trip that many pundits believe represents mission improbable.

And for back-three speed merchant Watson, being part of the Lions takes on an added sense of achievement, given that he featured in just two England Tests this season during an injury-hit campaign.

"I was delighted to be selected for a squad that is steeped in history," he said.

"Coming from four different nations and having not met a few of the boys before, it is important to step out of your comfort zone and get to know people you might not necessarily gravitate towards."

Watson was among 14 Lions players involved during a pre-tour training camp in Wales.

Numbers will increase for next week's gathering just outside Dublin before the whole squad assembles - following domestic and European play-off finals - and heads to New Zealand on May 29.

That initial experience for Watson and company has even stretched to Lions choir practice.

"We have had a couple of sessions, and we are getting there. The boys are getting to grips with the songs," he said.

"At the start, it was not going as smoothly as we would have liked, and then everyone let inhibitions go to one side and we ended up sounding pretty decent."

Any Lions tour, though, is remembered above all for hitting high notes on the pitch, and Test series glory in New Zealand would be off the scale.

"I have been there (New Zealand) before, so I kind of know what to expect, even if it will be hyped up to another level with the Lions," Watson said.

"You know it is a rugby country when you turn on the television and there is an under-18 schoolboy game on. You know it is serious when they are showing that."

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