TRANS-TASMAN PREVIEWS | We've got a look over and made our picks for the opening night of the rep ro...
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Great Britain vice-captain Brian Carney fervently believes that the Lions have it in them to go one better than last year and win the Tri-Nations series.
The Lions, who returned from their warm-weather training camp in Spain on Sunday, will go into their opening match against New Zealand at Loftus Road as underdogs after being embarrassed 44-4 by Australia in last year's final.
And, with the Kiwis recording an impressive victory over the Kangaroos in the first game and going so close to completing the double in Auckland, the home players clearly have it all to do.
They will also have the handicap of going into this year's competition without the hugely influential trio of Paul Sculthorpe, Kris Radlinski and Sean Long, in addition to rising star Danny McGuire.
However, Carney, who will leave Wigan at the end of the year for a new career in Australia initially with Newcastle Knights, is adamant the squad can withstand such massive losses and still be a competitive force - because it will provide an opportunity for other quality players to come in and show what they can do.
"They are a loss because they are outstanding players and immensely talented," said Carney.
"But we played a Super League match against St Helens a few weeks ago when they lost Sean Long and Darren Albert and they'd lost Paul Sculthorpe and Vinnie Anderson already, and sometimes when you're missing your big players somebody steps up and shows what they can do.
"While it's a great loss, it's not something were going to be dwelling on, because dwelling on it is going to achieve nothing."
Perhaps the biggest loss from last year's squad, however, is Carney's old club captain Andrew Farrell, who moved to rugby union at the start of the Super League campaign after a decade at the top of the 13-man-code.
The effect on Wigan could not have been more apparent as the Warriors went on to miss the play-offs for the first time in the modern era, although Carney insists Great Britain will be more capable of withstanding his loss than his club was.
"Great Britain won't miss Andy Farrell as much as we've missed him at Wigan," said Carney.
"That's obviously not to say he won't be missed, but the impact Andy Farrell had on the Wigan Rugby League club probably won't ever be equalled and, maybe shouldn't be equalled, because he was so much part of everything and almost maybe too much - so that when we lost him we lost more than we could cope with.
"Because we had so many young players, those sorts of players needed to play and needed to train and needed to see the attitude and the application of Andy Farrell, and they have missed out on that. But somebody else will step forward."
More info: www.tri-nations.com.au Discussion: Tri-Nations Forum at http://forums.leagueunlimited.com/forumdisplay.php?f=130