Crusaders rookie Quinten Strange not fearful of British and Irish Lions locks
Matching up against grizzled British and Irish Lions locks doesn't intimidate young Crusader Quinten Strange.
The 20-year-old will feature for the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in the Lions tour opener in Whangarei on June 3.
Strange's selection capped off a momentous couple of days for the Tasman Makos man. He made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in Friday night's 50-3 thumping of the Sunwolves, replacing skipper Sam Whitelock in the 50th minute.
Testing himself against the Lions' seasoned international locks will be the most formidable challenge of Strange's fledgling career, but it was one he was embracing.
"It will be good to see where I'm at and where I need to go in my career," the 1.99m Strange said.
"I probably prefer the way the New Zealand locks play. Obviously, I've got all the respect in how they play. They're great players all of them."
Strange could potentially play the Lions twice with the Crusaders squaring off against them seven days later on June 10 at AMI Stadium.
He was uncertain about his chances of being involved in that clash with most of the Crusaders' All Blacks forwards expected to front with the first test not until June 24 at Eden Park.
"I wouldn't complain. It would be good. I'm just expecting to play one [for the Barbarians]. I'll still prepare like any other game."
Strange was only eight when the Lions last toured New Zealand in 2005 and didn't remember much.
The former New Zealand secondary schools and under-20s international will compete for Barbarians' starting locking berths with Northland's Josh Goodhue and Taranaki's Mitchell Brown.
"Not many people get to play the Lions in their career. I'm definitely going to give it a good shot. It's a great opportunity for myself."
Strange's first Super Rugby contract came after just one season of NPC, where he impressed for beaten premiership finalists, Tasman, playing 11 games.
The Collingwood product, who captained Nelson College's First XV, was unsure about securing a Super Rugby contract this season, being so early in his career.
"It happened pretty quickly for me. I'd just played for Tasman and obviously got the call into here. I've wanted to be a Crusader all my life, so I'm living the dream."
Training alongside All Black locks Whitelock, Luke Romano and Scott Barrett had been an invaluable experience already.
He was soaking in their wisdom like a sponge and said their professionalism and work ethic was clear to see.
"I've come in and they've been an open book to me. It's a great environment to learn and develop as a player.
"Whenever I go to Whitelock and ask for anything, hes' always happy to help. He just said 'play your own game and be yourself and get stuck in at training'."
His move to Christchurch had been made easier flatting with Tasman team-mates David Havili and Pete Samu.
"Pete definitely doesn't cook. Me and Davey do the cooking. There's a bit of banter and it's good fun."
The unbeaten Crusaders host the Stormers at AMI Stadium on Saturday night.