Jarrad Hoeata: Ex-New Zealand lock says Lions face tougher task than 2005
Former New Zealand lock Jarrad Hoeata says the British and Irish Lions face a tougher test 12-years on from the last time they faced the All Blacks.
Warren Gatland's Lions will play three Tests against New Zealand as part of a 10-game series in June and July.
The previous tour to New Zealand in 2005 included eleven fixtures - seven against provincial second-tier sides
"Last time they played provincial sides now they are playing professional Super Rugby sides," Hoeata said.
He continued: "[They are also playing] the Maori All Blacks who have an amazing international record. It will be extremely difficult."
Twelve years on
Hoeata, 34, began playing professionally with provincial outfit Taranaki the season after the 2005 tour.
Since then he played three times for the All Blacks and later joined the Cardiff Blues.
"I can just remember it being awesome. A year after that was my first proper professional contract. I had just missed out on playing against the Lions as my club Taranaki played them too," he said.
"It was cool to watch but it would have been awesome to be involved with. I remember the huge buzz around New Zealand."
During the 2005 tour, the New Zealand Maori side beat the British and Irish Lions 19-13 and both sides will face each other once again on 17 June this year.
Second-rower Hoeata played for the representative side more than half a dozen times during his time in his native country.
Hoeata, alongside the likes of scrum-half Aaron Smith, back-rower Liam Messam and hooker Dane Coles, have worn for the Maori shirt as well as the national team's jersey.
"The Maoris are a very proud team and stacked with Super Rugby players as well," he continued.
"They beat the Lions last time. They beat England, I played in that game and they beat Ireland [both in 2010]" the loose forward added.
All Black Injuries
There are doubts over the fitness of All Blacks Coles, captain Kieran Read and back-rower Jerome Kaino for the Lions' tour.
If those two are missing it will be a big loss for them," Hoeata said.
"They [the All Blacks] have some good young guys coming through but with those guys you need their experience against a tough Lions outfit.
"I think if they get those two guys back it would be a huge bonus for them."