Johnny Sexton will know he is ready for the British and Irish Lions’ Test series decider with New Zealand when his pre-match nerves are “worse than ever”.
The Ireland fly-half will direct the Lions’ back line in tandem with England playmaker Owen Farrell in Saturday’s third and final Test in Auckland.
The 31-year-old admitted that the nerves never leave him - but the Leinster star insisted he can turn that to his advantage this weekend.
The Lions can notch just their second-ever Test series win in New Zealand on Saturday, but to do so Warren Gatland’s men must end the All Blacks’ 39-match unbeaten streak at Eden Park.
“I struggle sometimes with the nerves but this is once-in-a-lifetime stuff, so you have to treasure it,” said Sexton.
“Sometimes they get easier, then other times they are worse than ever - especially when you consider this type of game.
“Potentially it’s your last in a Lions shirt as you don’t know what is down the line.
“You try and control the nerves the best you can and use them to your advantage. If you weren’t nervous I would be pretty worried.
“I would say there will be a lot of pretty nervous boys come Saturday. We will use our experiences to get over the line.
“It’s down to the last game - two different sides and we are playing against the World Cup winners, but we are a better Lions side than four years ago.
“We have to cherish the atmosphere, it does not come around too often. You have got to try and enjoy it.
“The support we have had out here has been incredible. It shows how good Lions tours are and how much it means to people in the professional game.”
Sexton admitted the Lions know full well the impact of Sonny Bill Williams’ red card last week.
“But we aren’t getting ahead of ourselves, we know we won against 14 men and we made things tough for ourselves at the start of the second half.So we need to look at that period.”