British and Irish Lions 2017: Defeat would be pretty bad - NZ's Kieran Read

Kieran Read
Read will be making his 98th Test appearance when he starts against the Lions
New Zealand v British and Irish Lions, first Test
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland Date: Saturday, 24 June Kick-off: 08:35 BST
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

New Zealand cannot afford defeat against the British and Irish Lions in Saturday's first Test in Auckland, says captain Kieran Read.

The All Blacks, unbeaten at Eden Park since 1994, are favourites to beat a Lions side whose only series victory in New Zealand was in 1971.

"There's always pressure on us and we don't mind pressure," Read said. "Losing would be pretty bad.

"We will go out there and expect to win."

Read was part of New Zealand's World Cup wins of 2011 and 2015, but believes the opening match against with the Lions is "probably the most important right now" in his career.

The 31-year-old has recovered from a broken thumb to lead his country. He is expecting a physical battle between the two sets of forwards after the Lions' pack helped them to impressive wins over the Crusaders and New Zealand Maori during the run-up to the first Test.

"Whoever dominates the set-piece ruck area will have a strong chance of winning the game," he said.

Lions coach Warren Gatland sprung a surprise with his selection, opting for full-back Liam Williams and wing Elliot Daly, ahead of Leigh Halfpenny and George North respectively.

Gatland has promised his side will be "courageous", adding "you have to score tries" to beat the All Blacks.

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