Lions head coach Warren Gatland wants to face the toughest teams possible in the lead up to the Test series with the Wallabies in June and July of this year.
Britain and Ireland’s elite haven’t won a series in the southern hemisphere for 16 years and Gatland and his fellow coaches are determined to do everything possible to reverse that trend this time around.
But while Gatland and co are currently stepping up their preparations with a final reccy Down Under, one thing completely out of their control is whether Wallaby boss Robbie Deans will allow his star names to feature for their Super Rugby sides prior to the Test series.
Gatland knows what he would suit the tourists after Springbok boss Peter de Villiers prevented his big names from featuring early on four years ago but only time will tell whether Deans sees the situation in the same light.
"From the experience that we learnt from four years ago, it's all about preparing for the Test matches so the harder the games are the better prepared we're going to be," said Gatland.
"If Robbie will let as many of the Wallabies play in those warm up games, that will help us prepare.
"We found in South Africa we were undefeated in the warm-up games but, because there wasn't a lot of the South African players playing, we weren't tested as well as we could have been."
As well as taking on the Wallabies in a three-match series in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney on June 22, 29 and July 6, the Lions face all five Australian Super XV franchises and a combined New South Wales and Queensland Country outfit Down Under.
Gatland’s troops kick off their 10-game tour on June 1 when they travel to Hong Kong to face a Barbarians team coached by triple Lions tourist Dai Young.