Alun Wyn Jones believes the intensity will “go up again” when the British and Irish Lions target Test series glory against world champions New Zealand.
Jones captained the Lions when they faced a series decider in Australia four years ago, overseeing a spectacular performance as the Wallabies were routed 41-16.
The All Blacks, though, will protect a 23-year unbeaten record at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday, and are on the rebound from a 24-21 second Test defeat – their first loss in New Zealand since 2009.
The Lions have now decamped to the tourist haven of Queenstown in New Zealand’s Southern Alps for a few days’ rest and recuperation, but talk is already turning towards another huge confrontation.
“At this stage of the tour, you have to enjoy the moment, but it’s a level series, which is all it is at the minute,” Wales and Lions lock Jones said.
“We responded to our performance from last week, and no doubt they will do the same next week. So we need to build and be ready for what they’ve got next week.
“We know the intensity with what’s at stake will go up again like it did four years ago, and very little will change, you imagine.
“When you quantify intensity… is it being accurate? Is it keeping them down? Is it not putting the ball out dead? I think if we can do all these things and maintain that intensity for a longer period, it should go some way towards improving our performance for next week.”
Jones, 31, was part of a Lions pack that had its physicality questioned following a tame showing in the opening Test, but an outstanding response underpinned a first Lions victory over New Zealand for 24 years.
“If you look at the games we’ve played previously, probably the Crusaders game in particular (12-3 win on June 10), we showed elements of what we can do as a pack,” Wales skipper Jones added.
“We had to answer questions again, and on the back of those comments (criticism of pack) last week, I felt we did that.
“Individual people make packs, and when you do your individual role in that, you get a complete pack. For the large part there was a lot of that, particularly in the first half.
“We were stressed going down to 14 men with the yellow card (for Mako Vunipola), and they were in the ascendancy in the first 15 or 20 minutes in the second half, but we were able to weather the storm.
“As a pack, we were trying to stick to what we do.
“I think those penalties (conceded by the Lions) were us trying too hard because we knew we were in the ascendancy in the first half. It’s a case of not taking our foot off the gas, but knowing when to put our front foot forward, if you like, when we are trying to win back the ball.
“We will look at those penalties and certain areas where we feel we probably can get a bit wider.
“On the whole, the performance wasn’t complete, but we will patch those areas up where we need to, and obviously they are going to be an All Blacks team chomping at the bit next week.
“We’ve really got to make sure we enjoy it. We will get the best out of everyone if we do enjoy it.”