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Andy Farrell says the Lions are brimming for a big challenge

• Assistant coach confident team can show requisite steel against All Blacks
• ‘We’re going to have to take ourselves to a place we’ve not been to before’

This was the perfect week to unveil a 2.7 metre-high bronze statue of the legendary former All Black captain Colin Meads in his home town of Te Kuiti, 80km south of the Lions’ latest base. Now 81 and battling pancreatic cancer, the old “Pinetree” is creaking slightly but his formidable reputation remains intact. Having once played on for 74 minutes of a tour game in South Africa with a broken arm, he knows better than most about pushing through the pain barrier.

The 2017 British & Irish Lions will need to be similarly steely in body and mind if they wish to kick off the best-of-three series with a win in Auckland on Saturday. That, at least, is the considered view of their assistant coach Andy Farrell, a renowned Man of Steel in his Wigan days, whose aggressive defensive system is central to the Lions’ strategy. In 2013 he famously exhorted his players to enter the “hurt arena” prior to the decisive third Test against Australia. This time he suspects the Lions will have to go up another level again.

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