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British & Irish Lions
Journeying to the land Down Under
Tom Hamilton in Hong Kong
June 2, 2013
The Lions cool off after their match against the Barbarians © Getty Images

So the Hong Kong experience has come and gone and tonight the British & Irish Lions fly out to Perth where the tour begins in earnest. While they will have the luxury of business class, I will be seated with the rest of the cattle in the back of plane.

Hong Kong has been a brutal few days for the Lions. The heat has taken up almost as many column inches as saturated towels but they have passed the test. Last night's game at the Hong Kong Stadium was officially the first in this 10-match marathon but from speaking to the players and the coaches, they are all itching to touch down in Australia.

While all 23 Lions came through yesterday's match relatively unscathed, though Paul O'Connell and Tom Youngs will have new scars to show for their efforts, the Wallabies are counting the cost of a bruising weekend of Super Rugby. Three of their front-line players picked up injuries but it is dubious whether Lions boss Warren Gatland will be paying any attention to how they are faring just yet.

A question was put to him in last night's post-match press conference concerning what he felt the Wallabies would have thought of the Lions' performance. His answer was a curt, "I don't care". Despite the first Test being 20 days away, his focus is purely on what is happening within the camp rather than external distractions.

Before the tourists face the Wallabies they have five more matches and they will hope to reap the long-term benefits of yesterday's toasty affair when they face the men in green and gold.

But for others, there are also short-term benefits readers. The heat has caused me to drop a couple of pounds with Barbarians coach Dai Young putting it perfectly when answering a question from The Independent'sChris Hewett yesterday - the Wasps coach said the climate "is not great for the fat boys".

For those of a svelte figure, such as Lions head doctor James Robson, he was upset to learn he still tipped the scales at his invariable 90 kilos. We had about 30 minutes with the Scotsman earlier today and it was intriguing and engrossing listening to him. This is now his sixth Lions tour and while giving the media the essential injury updates, though he spoke to us prior to catching up with the players so much of this was prediction, he also imparted some of his vast medical knowledge and brief tongue-in-cheek mentions of his Scot bias.

He and the rest of the backroom staff will also leave for Australian shores tonight and while the temperature and humidity will drop a few notches, the intensity will continue to rise.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.

Tom Hamilton was brought up near the stands of the Recreation Ground and joined ESPN in 2011. He is now Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
Follow him on Twitter @tomESPNscrum