Kiwi Lions Ben Te'o and Jared Payne have been described as the "ultimate competitors" by Lions assistant coach Andy Farrell.

The two NZ-born backs have burst into the 41-man touring squad from vastly different backgrounds. Payne was a highly respected provincial rugby player - the Northland captain - who was a fringe Super Rugby player for three franchises - the Chiefs, Crusaders and Blues.

The 30-year-old Te'o, raised in Auckland, was a Junior Kiwi rugby league player who left for Australia in his teens, and had a strong NRL career with the Wests Tigers, Broncos and South Sydney.

Farrell said the 31-year-old Payne, who has had 20 games for Ireland, was a pleasure to work with, "a very experienced guy, who galvanises the backline, makes other people around him very comfortable".


He said Te'o, also a centre, had a massive impact off the bench for England and boosted his chances with a great club game for Worcester over the weekend.

"He's played a lot of big games, especially in the other code," said Farrell.

On the omission of controversial hooker Dylan Hartley, another Kiwi, Farrell said there were a "lot of class players missed out".

"We have to make sure we don't have the same type of player - that the balance of the squad is right," he said. "But we'll get injuries out there, no doubt one or two things will happen before we leave.

"Traditionally, four to six players have to fly out of these tours."