Previous British and Irish Lions tours of New Zealand

In 1930 it hosted New Zealand's first-ever cricket test - against England - and in 1990 Christchurch-born Richard Hadlee claimed his then record 400th test wicket there.

"The hardest team to pick is a Lions first Test team, as a coach, because of the circumstances in what you have to do it". But spare a thought (and maybe a prayer) for the second team as their Tour could become a nightmare.

When Lions Roared: The Lions, The All Blacks and the Legendary Tour of 1971 by Tom English and Peter Burns is published by Polaris.

In the next game, just three days later, which promises to be a fast-paced affair at the indoor Forsyth Barr Stadium, the Lions will take on the Highlanders, who are on their own nine-match winning streak. Win or lose, that is the standard Warren Gatland's men must aim to uphold as the Lions begin another tilt at mission impossible.

The beauty of the Lions is that they are one of the few things in rugby that hasn't been totally over exposed by the evil greed of professionalism. He said; 'No. Can we leave it?

The squad will arrive at approximately 11:30am NZ time with Gatland and tour manager John Spencer speaking to the press after they get through all their arrival checks.

Factbox on previous British and Irish Lions tours of New Zealand: 2005 TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND Captain: Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland) Coach: Clive Woodward (England) * Considered one of the strongest Lions sides to tour New Zealand with several of England's World Cup winners on board but swept 3-0 in the tests.

Even New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has suggested that he knows what to expect from a Gatland-coached team: a pack full of bruisers playing low-risk rugby aimed at stifling All Black creativity.

"If they win the first test, they win the series".

"I don't think anybody is going out there just to take part".

Fact is, with the club bosses not really giving a fig about worldwide rugby, we're probably lucky we still have them at all. We spoke to some grandparents in a rest home, and we we went to a kindergarten for the day in Queenstown - we wanted to get a sense of rugby's place in everyone's lives, not just the professionals.

The Lions flew out to New Zealand on Monday and will face the Provincial Barbarians on Saturday in the first of six warm-up matches before taking on the All Blacks in Auckland on June 24.

The world champions, however, have had a run of injuries to several players with captain Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino only expected to return from surgery after the Lions have arrived.

"I thought New Zealand had invented the sport so, yes, it did have a real impact on me", he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph earlier this year. If he does so, it may well be a gamble which pays off in the Test matches.

The British and Irish Lions will shortly embark on their 12th trip to New Zealand.

"The challenge is going to be huge in the Test series and there will be no greater one in our careers".

Te Papa acknowledges the support of New Zealand Rugby, AIG and Samsung.

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