Dan Biggar has been told he is not as far from a Lions Test spot as he fears.
The reassurance has come from Lions assistant coach Andy Farrell who believes the Wales No.10 has been too hard on himself by stating he was currently third choice behind Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton.
Biggar has a chance to state his claim for Test selection against New Zealand when he starts against the Highlanders on Tuesday.
The tour has been invigorated by the Lions’ 12-3 victory over the Crusaders on Saturday where Farrell gave a masterclass at fly-half to assert his authority in the battle for No.10.
That prompted Biggar to suggest he had fallen behind his rivals in the scrap to face the All Blacks, but Farrell senior – Owen’s father – insisted: “I think it’s a bit harsh for him to say he’s third choice from his point of view.
“Because he got a head knock in the first game and hasn’t had that much game time.
“The other boys have played since and played pretty well but Dan’s in the hot seat on Tuesday night and looking forward to it.
“I don’t think it’s a pressure situation, it’s a group that needs to keep on building and the message to the boys this morning about Tuesday is we’re building our plan, the things that we do behind the scenes as well as what we do on the pitch.
“That’s team harmony, team systems, team togetherness, and Dan’s in charge of that on Tuesday night.”
Farrell believes the Lions will be in no rush to call up a replacement if Stuart Hogg is ruled out of the remainder of the tour – which could improve the Test full-back chances of both Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny.
Luckless Scotland full-back Hogg collided accidentally with Conor Murray’s elbow in Saturday’s win over the Crusaders.
The Glasgow flyer is still sweating on the outcome of specialist examinations on his cheek, but defence coach Farrell believes the Lions boast a good array of alternative options.
The Lions, who geared up for their fourth tour match against Highlanders with a run out at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Monday morning, do appear well stocked at Hogg’s position.
Jared Payne will slot in at 15 for Tuesday’s clash, with Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson also comfortable at full-back – and Leigh Halfpenny also a specialist.
“Warren (Gatland) will give Stuart all the time he needs to make sure he’s right,” said Farrell, of Hogg’s injury situation.
“We’ll just wait for the outcome but at this point in time we’ve got a big squad and a lot of people in place to cover different positions.
“We picked a bigger squad this time round than we did for the last tour, simply because of the schedule – not just the games but the travel time and the amount of time we’re going to have on the training field together.
“We’re through a few of those games now, and obviously after Tuesday night it will be one less.
“Jon Davies is good, he’s on track with his protocols after his head injury. And Dan Biggar has been smashing me all morning, so he’s fine and ready or tomorrow night.”