British & Irish Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll is a contented man as he prepares to step out for the biggest game in his glittering career.
The Lions have overcome teams like Southland, Otago and Wellington during the last two weeks, but are now preparing to take on Graham Henry’s All Blacks over a three-Test series.
And there is a quiet confidence in the Lions camp ahead of Saturday’s first Test.
"The whole level of intensity has increased just because it is a Test match, and because everyone always pushes themselves an extra 10 or 15% when it comes to Test week," said Ireland centre O’Driscoll.
"That’s just the way the human body works when you get into the zone for games of the magnitude of a Test match between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions. It is the way life is."
O’Driscoll, the seventh Irishman to captain the Lions since 1950, started all three Tests in Australia four years ago.
And he is one of eight players in the Lions 22 on Saturday who featured during that series, suggesting experience will not be a problem as he taps into the knowledge provided by people like Richard Hill, Neil Back, Martin Corry and Jonny Wilkinson.
"There are number of the guys involved in 2001 who are here on this tour, and they’ve got four years more experience, which counts for a huge amount in this game," O’Driscoll added.
"And some of the guys have come in because they are playing the best rugby of their careers."