Cian Healy says he is ready for any Australian intimidation that may come his way on this summer's Lions tour after admitting that he is just thankful to be on the plane after a ban for stamping in the Six Nations almost scuppered his selection chances.
Australian sides have a history of attempting to rough up the Lions, and Healy, suspended for stamping on England's Dan Cole in February, will be one of the prime targets.
On the most recent Lions tour to Australia, in 2001, a vicious encounter with the New South Wales Waratahs, which featured the infamous pummelling Ronan O'Gara shipped from Duncan McRae, cost the services of Lawrence Dallaglio, Neil Back and Will Greenwood.
However, Healy has dismissed any concerns that he might be vulnerable to such tactics, declaring boldly: "I've taken it for most of my career. I don't think it will change too much now."
The Lions squad have been warned by Gatland not to stoke the Aussie fires before the tour kicks off next month and Healy refused to comment on the Wallabies' reputation for sledging.
"I don't really have an opinion on it," he said. "That stuff doesn't have any relevance to me, sledging or no sledging."
Healy did admit that he had sweated about his Lions place after the guilty verdict for the Cole stamping cost him a chunk of playing time in a dismal Six Nations campaign for Ireland.
"You can't take it for granted," he said. "As soon as you expect something, it can be taken away from you just as quick. You always have to hope and sit on that. I always back myself to give everything in every game and if I miss a game or two games, I have still played a lot of other games where I have put in my best effort – and if it wasn't good enough, it wasn't good enough."