Read – ‘We expect to win’

Kieran Read says the All Blacks are used to dealing with the weight of expectation ahead of the first British and Irish Lions Test.

The sides clash at Eden Park tomorrow with Read starting his first match in two months after recovering from a broken thumb.

Should the All Blacks lose the three-match Test series they will be the first New Zealand side to do so since 1976.

But Read says the best way of dealing with this pressure is by facing it head on.

"There's always pressure on us," Read told Stuff.

"We don't mind pressure. Losing would be pretty bad, and any time we lose it's something we don't like.

"So we're prepared to go out and play our game. We know it's going to be a massive challenge, but this group as All Blacks want to take that head on and embrace it. It's an exciting time for us.

"We'll go out there and expect to win, as probably everyone in New Zealand is going to expect us to win. But we've got to actually go out and do that. And that comes through our week, our preparation and the mindset we turn up with on Saturday."

When asked if this meant the All Blacks are a team more motivated by the fear of failure than the pleasure of success, Read was quick to insist it was the latter.

"Most definitely not. We love winning. That is the one that drives you, but you can't always be focused on winning, you've got to be focused on what you can do as a team to get better. This is a series where winning is a high motivation, but all our focus is on tomorrow night, because we know the challenge is going to be massive.

"Obviously there's a little bit of unknown but I'm feeling great, the body in good nick, and the emotions and adrenalin will certainly kick in tomorrow. I'm pumped for the test match.

"I guess the biggest challenge for me is not to go quiet when I get a little bit tired. As leader you've got to be front and centre, so it's making sure I keep working at my game. I've got plenty of great men beside me – 22 other guys who will do their job.

Meanwhile, Read has put the experience of facing the Lions as right up there with playing a World Cup final.

"It's probably the most important test right now for me," he said.

"I certainly know what's coming. It will be a different beast to World Cup finals and different games I've played in. We've just got to adapt as quickly as we can. That's something we've learned over the last few years as a team – to adapt and adjust and whatever gets thrown our way we'll try and overcome it.