The Lions are coming off the back of what McGillvary admitted was a “tough loss” to a Tonga Invitational XIII last weekend, but he insisted: “There’s some positives to take away from it, it’s not all doom and gloom.”
Great Britain went 14-0 behind before John Bateman scored what proved to be a consolation try, but McGillvary believes the Lions’ deficiencies can be fixed for what, on paper, should be an even more difficult challenge at Auckland’s Eden Park.
“[We] can’t fault the effort, it was just a bit of smarts in attack and things like that – and the way we finished our sets,” he said of the defeat four days ago.
“Tonga were amazing team, they were strong up the middle and all across the park, really and it was a very physical game. We go again, we have got a game plan for New Zealand and hopefully we can execute it better than we did against Tonga.”
McGillvary featured for England in four Test matches against New Zealand last year and knows what to expect on Saturday. England won a mid-season Test in Denver and went 2-0 ahead in the home series 12 months ago, but were crushed 34-0 at Elland Road in the last of the 2018 meetings.
“They are a quality outfit,” noted McGillvary. “All their players are top NRL players and top internationals as well.
“It is always an honour to play against New Zealand and to see the haka as well, in their own backyard. It is going to be tough, but we are up for it and it should be a great experience.”
The Lions had two days off following the loss to Tonga, but returned to training yesterday. They have a rest day tomorrow and will put the final touches to preparations at a captain’s run on Friday.