Lions tour: 2017 British and Irish Lions in much better shape than 2005 - Will Greenwood

New Zealand doesn't hold the fondest of memories for former England centre Will Greenwood. The 44-year-old toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2005, who got swept 3-0 by a ruthless All Blacks side that dominated almost every minute of play.

Despite that terrible experience as a player, Greenwood is extremely confident the 2017 Lions line-up is more equipped to upset the reigning world champions.

"This Lions team have got a tremendous amount of belief," says Greenwood, "cohesive, powerful, dynamic, compact defensively.

"It's not rocket science, but more an ability and desire to give it your all and know that others are doing the same."

Greenwood wasn't expected to play much of a role in the 2005 series, given the tourists were captained by Irish legend and centre Brian O'Driscoll.

However, as fate would have it, O'Driscoll was involved in a well-publicised off-the-ball incident with Tana Umaga and Kevin Mealamu that broke his collarbone. His Test series was over in less than a minute.

"Forty-two seconds - I had my hot water bottle, my blanket and my thermals on. I was only covering Brian [O'Driscoll]. He never comes off; he is the hardest man on the planet.

"I was just about to have my first boiled sweet and the bench said I was on.

"It was a strange way to pick up my first Lions Test jersey, and, clearly, off the back of it, it was a disappointing series."

The 57-Test veteran holds no illusions as to what awaits the Lions, but after a round of matches against four Super Rugby franchises and the Maori All Blacks, Greenwood is confident they have what it takes.

"We are up against the double world champions who are ascetically pleasing as any side in the history of the game. The offloading ability, the ball-handling ability of the forwards with their interplay around the contact area with the weapons they have on the outside, it really is extraordinary.

"I feel this squad are in a better shape than in 2005.

"More players are in peak form and physical condition, who are ready to have a dig, and with the experience of the Irish boys and some of the English lads as well of having beaten the ABs."

As for making a call on who gets the nod come the final whistle, Greenwood says it is literally a flip of the coin.

"Who knows? The stats and history says you come here to lose. You come to Eden Park and you get beat. 

"But we are the Lions, we will roll the dice."

Newshub.

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