The world champions, who whitewashed Sir Clive Woodward’s 2005 collective, have only ever lost one series against the Lions and that was 46 years ago. They are also overwhelming favourites with the bookmakers.
But Hansen, after taking a good look at the squad Warren Gatland announced on Wednesday, conveniently put all that to one side yesterday.
“I think this is the best British and Irish Lions that we’ve seen come here for a long, long time,” said Hansen.
“They will come with a lot of expectation which I think is going to be interesting to see how they cope with that – a lot more expectation than they’ve been used to because people expect them to win.”
Despite barbs from former All Blacks captain Colin Meads branding the Lions pack as “a bit soft”, Hansen dismissively anticipates route-one rugby from Gatland’s men, with little in the way of subtlety.
“He likes his big ball-carriers in the middle of the park and his big, grunty forwards, so that is what he has picked and I would expect we’re going to get a similar game style to what we’ve always got whenever we have played a Warren Gatland team,” said Hansen.
There is still a lot of rugby to be played by the prospective Lions with five weeks until departure – 17 of the 41-man squad will be involved in European club semi-finals this weekend. The Lions management want the players to pour themselves into those games rather than wrap themselves in cotton wool.
“I suppose they will be elated,” said Lions defence coach Andy Farrell. “But quite a lot of them have got a big weekend coming up so they need to park it and put full steam ahead into what is coming over the next month because we want guys getting on the plane in good form.
“There might be a few ups and downs with results but we want guys buzzing.”
Source : EXPRESS