Johnny Sexton laid down the gauntlet in the wake of the British and Irish Lions’ 32-10 victory over the Maori All Blacks by claiming they are not the only ones who will be under pressure to deliver in next weekend’s first Test against New Zealand, with the fly-half pointing to the proud record that is held at Eden Park.
The All Blacks have not lost at Eden Park since the 23-20 defeat by France in July 1994, and have put together an incredible run of 37 consecutive wins since then to turn the ground into their very own fortress.
Having steered the Lions to a Test series victory over Australia four years ago, Sexton knows all about pressure, but after a commanding performance in the record victory over the Maori, the Irishman believes the tourists can take advantage of the expectation placed on the All Blacks.
“It’s a much bigger challenge to 2013, the guys that were there can use the experience they gained with regards to the pressure,” Sexton said after the biggest win that the Lions have ever recorded against the Maori, ending their 20-game winning streak in the process.
“Come Thursday, Friday Auckland will be jammed with Lions supporters and how that can just hit you.
British and Irish Lions player ratings vs Maori All Blacks
“It’s small things like that help prepared the team, but like I said this is the biggest challenge in rugby to take the All Blacks on in Eden Park, they haven’t lost there in however many years and it’s something you have to get excited about. There’s been legends of New Zealand who have never played the Lions and they’ll be well-aware of that.
“I’m sure they’ll be under big pressure as well with the expectation of trying to live up to what happened 12 years ago and it’s a rugby mad country so the pressure is on.”
Sexton has become something of a hot topic as the tour has progressed, not least because he appears to be improving with each performance.
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