Sport

Thursday 27 July 2017

Dan Cole: Lions well equipped to take on All Blacks

Dan Cole is in optimistic mood ahead of the Lions' tour to New Zealand
Dan Cole is in optimistic mood ahead of the Lions' tour to New Zealand

Dan Cole is enthused by the quality in a star-studded British and Irish Lions squad that will depart for New Zealand on Monday.

England and Leicester prop Cole was among a 30-man group involved in the Lions' second pre-tour training camp this week.

And the action will soon become incessant, with the Lions' opening tour game against a New Zealand Provincial Barbarians XV now just eight days away.

"This week went by in a flash," Cole said of the get-together in Ireland.

"And we fly Monday, we get there Wednesday and play Saturday, so it is going to come thick and fast."

The 10-match tour is headlined by a three-Test series against the world champion All Blacks, and 74 times-capped Cole believes it will be about the Lions doing their own thing in terms of game-plan.

"No team can play the New Zealand way - only New Zealand can do that," he added.

"You can try and mimic it, but I think they are the best at that game, so you have to play to your strengths, and that is something the coaches have devised and are devising.

"We have got to play a Lions formula rugby that tries to take away New Zealand's threats, etc.

"I think we have got a very good, competitive pack. And we've got some very talented attacking players. We are fairly well equipped.

"The great thing about rugby is there is more than one way to win a game. There is not one size fits all regarding players and game-plans, and that is the beauty of the game."

Bonding off the field, as well as hard work on the training pitch, has been a key part of Lions preparations in Wales and Ireland during the past fortnight.

And having toured with the Lions to Australia in 2013, Cole has again enjoyed the squad-building process.

"There have been no cliques or anything like that," he added. "Everyone is mixing very well.

"You want to win on the tour, and you know you have got to pull together as quickly as possible.

"To be fair, you know most people anyway from playing in the European competitions and Six Nations, and I know Graham Rowntree (assistant coach) and the coaching staff from before. Being reacquainted with them, learning a new game-plan, it is quite exciting to do."

The Lions reassemble in London on Sunday, when their numbers will be further bolstered by players involved in this weekend's domestic play-off finals featuring Wasps, Exeter, Munster and the Scarlets.

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