Qantas Wallabies back Berrick Barnes says there is even more excitement surrounding Saturday’s first Test with The British & Irish Lions than there was before the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Barnes and co reached the semi-finals of the global gathering in New Zealand two years ago but he believes the latest Lions adventure has captured the imagination on an unprecedented scale.
“I actually think there's more excitement about this sort of game and this sort of series than there has been for that World Cup," said Barnes, as he dismissed suggestions that Lions tours should be a thing of the past.
"The rugby public is excited about this. They know it's a small window in time. Every publican in the street is bloody stoked. It's a good feeling.
"This is the biggest game in the world since the World Cup that we've all had the opportunity to be around. You’ve felt the build-up.
"I don't know you why you have that debate (about future tours). I think it's one of the best things they do. I think it's fantastic. Why would you want to wreck 120 (125) years of history?
"It's massive for us. There's only 160 guys or something that have worn the Wallaby jersey against them. The British & Irish Lions – you only have to hear Brian O'Driscoll and the passion they have."
Barnes is currently battling it out for a spot in the starting XV at the Suncorp Stadium, with his versatility either pushing him forward or holding him back depending on how you look at it.
The 27-year-old could play fly-half, centre or full back in the opening rubber but could just as easily be employed on the bench in Brisbane.
Barnes admits that a starting spot anywhere on the side would be his ideal scenario but he insists he is just desperate to be involved in the matchday 23 one way or another.
"Everyone likes to start, there's obviously a lot of prestige associated with that, but I firmly believe that it doesn't really matter – it's a 23-man squad which will get this thing done," added the 50-times capped Barnes after feely admitting he had mostly been running at full back but also as a utility player in case of injuries.
"Games are decided in the last 10 minutes and often it's whoever has got the stronger bench and finishes the game the better that comes out on top. Whoever is on our bench on Saturday night is going to have a big role in front of them when they come onto the pitch.
"As we've seen in the last few (tour) games both sides have been out on their feet after 40 and I'd say the Test-match intensity will be up a step."