Andy Farrell: British and Irish Lions are relishing opening game against Barbarians
Last Updated: 01/06/13 12:49pm
Andy Farrell is confident the British and Irish Lions will hit the ground running against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on Saturday.
The Lions will face stamina-sapping heat and humidity at Hong Kong Stadium, with the temperature at kick-off forecast to be around 30 degrees.
Two short water breaks will be taken during each half while giant fans will be situated near the touchlines if the players require them.
Lions assistant coach Farrell, though, does not anticipate the conditions being an issue for a squad he describes as being "in brilliant nick".
"The players have coped really well in training in the mornings and afternoons when it has been really hot," he said.
"These boys fill in wellness charts every single morning, they have (urine) tests every day, they weigh before and after training.
"The first day here was really humid when we trained - I think it was 85 per cent - and some boys lost three and four kilograms.
"The next day we had rehydration breaks and fans on the side of the pitch and some of the boys only lost one kilogram.
"They've got ice vests they can use at half-time to cool their body down and some like to put an ice towel over their head, but once you are in the middle of the game and thinking about rugby, you are not thinking about heat and exhaustion.
"One thing that shines out about this squad is that they are in brilliant nick."
The Baa-Baas clash will give Lions head coach Warren Gatland an immediate opportunity to assess combinations before arriving in Perth on Monday.
Attention is likely to focus on the half-back pairing of Owen Farrell and Mike Phillips, the Richie Gray-Paul O'Connell second-row partnership and an all-Welsh back-row of Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau.
There might be 17 Lions newcomers in the matchday 23, but a hard edge of considerable Test match experience should underpin a comprehensive victory.
"There will be a few nervous bodies out there, but these boys are the best of the best, you know. They are good Test match arena players and they cope with pressure really well," Farrell added.
"We've been training for three weeks now, and we are itching for a game.
"We can sit here and talk about how fantastically well the last three weeks have gone, but there is no doubt about it, you need to get out there - 15 against 15 - make some mistakes and have some footage to work on and get better with.
"That's what rugby is all about, learning to adapt in situations that you can't replicate on a training field.
"It has been fantastic so far. Everyone is learning and I think the stand-out thing for me would be how quickly they (players) adapt and the work ethic they show. They want to try to sort problems straightaway.
"The speed of how they do things and speed of how they learn has been fantastic to watch.
"I suppose everyone is a little bit nervous, really. Everyone fully understands that everyone will get a couple of starts and get to show what they've got and this is the start tomorrow.
"Everyone has been waiting for it, to get the show on the road and put their best foot forward."
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