Waisake Naholo believes the All Blacks will raise their game for the "once in a lifetime" chance to sink the British and Irish Lions.
aholo thundered home for a try as the Highlanders toppled the Lions 23-22 in Dunedin on Tuesday in a performance he hopes can secure him a starting berth for the three-Test series. Naholo was released by the All Blacks to face the Lions in Highlanders colours as he sharpens up after hamstring trouble.
The Lions can expect to face him again in the first Test at Eden Park on June 24 - and Naholo has tipped New Zealand to hit new heights for a series that only rolls into town once every 12 years.
"Every player always raises their game when they join up with the All Blacks," said Naholo.
"The expectation demands that and nothing less; so the level has to go up again. So it should be tougher for the Lions. Facing the Lions in a Test series is a once in a lifetime chance."
But for a fine last-ditch tackle from Jared Payne, Naholo would have swept in for two tries against the Lions at the Forsyth Barr Stadium. The potent strike runner hopes he has done enough to convince All Blacks boss Steve Hansen he is worthy of a starting jersey. Naholo also insisted that the All Blacks will not take the Lions lightly, despite the tourists only having ever won one Test series in New Zealand.
"I certainly don't think the All Blacks will underestimate the Lions on this tour," he insisted.