(Reuters) - England playmaker Owen Farrell thinks the British and Irish Lions have a squad capable of taking on any team in the world and will head to New Zealand on Monday believing they can beat the All Blacks in the three-test series.
The Lions arrive in New Zealand on Wednesday after a stopover in Melbourne and Farrell conceded taking on the world champions in their own back yard was a “tough challenge”.
“I don’t think anybody is going out there just to take part,” the forthright 25-year-old told British media.
”Everyone firmly believes we’re going out to win and that’s the way it should be.
“It’s a brilliant squad that’s going out there, full of world-class players. If we get it right and make sure we’re on the same page as soon as possible, I’d imagine this squad would challenge anyone.”
Farrell is a second time tourist but played only 17 minutes off the bench in the third test in Australia that secured a 2-1 victory for the Lions in 2013.
As an integral part of the England team which this year equalled the top tier test record of 18 consecutive wins under Eddie Jones, Farrell will be hoping he gets more test time in New Zealand.
Jones, however, does not share Farrell’s confidence in the Lions. He was particularly sceptical about their chances if coach Warren Gatland decides to stick to the gameplan he has relied upon as coach of Wales.
“They have picked a certain style of team based on the influence of the Welsh coaches,” the Australian told Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
”I think they are looking to attack like Wales with big, gainline runners and not much ball movement. You struggle to beat the All Blacks like that.
”You have got to keep the pressure on, you have got to exert pressure in areas that they don’t like, which is traditionally the close set-piece play, but then have the ability when you create opportunities, to turn that into points.
“If they win the first test, they win the series. If they don‘t, it might be a tough old series.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford