Rowntree purring ahead of Crusaders clash

British and Irish Lions scrum coach Graham Rowntree is salivating at the prospect of facing off with the Crusaders on Saturday.

His pack are set to face several All Blacks this weekend in another tough outing against the leading Super Rugby outfit in the competition.

And Rowntree is thrilled to do so as they look to hit back from a shock loss to the Blues with what would be a morale-boosting success.

"It's great, it'll be great for us, proper intensity," he told the Lions website.

"These are the games that we want going into a Test series, playing against a top Super team full of All Blacks. We've had a good look at them as well.

"In my area of the game it's a massive challenge and I've got so much respect for their set-piece but I trust our guys.

"We've got some good performers, that starting pack, the experience they've gained for their countries and playing in European finals, it's going to be a real challenge.

"We talk about the set-pieces as physical statements as forwards coaches, winning those little battles in the war of a game.

"It could be a scrum or a maul or, on the flip side, defending those. They're big battles areas in a game and we've got to match them and better them at the weekend.

"This is a game that if I was a player, I'd think 'I'll see how good I am, and test myself.'"

On Saturday the Lions will start Conor Murray and Owen Farrell together while Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Tadhg Furlong form a strong front-row, which Rowntree admits gives them a look at combinations heading into the Test series.

"We're still evolving new units. We said the first three games we'd have a good look at everyone and that's what we're doing," he added.

"You want to see as many combinations as well going into that Test series and it's only just around the corner, so we're constantly looking at training, looking at games with microscopic detail to see who's got the form.

"I'd say at the moment we're a long way off that. But it'll become very clear over the next five days."

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