Former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick has strongly rejected claims that the future of the British and Irish Lions is in jeopardy ahead of the second test in Wellington.
The primary issue lies with combining future tours as part of the new global season from the end of 2019, with Lions tour manager John Spencer last week suggesting that caving to pressure to shorten the tours by a week, and two matches, would jeopardise the Lions' future.
Fitzpatrick was captain the last time the All Blacks lost to the Lions back in 1993, his side going on to win the series 2-1.
Hitting out at suggestions that the tour to New Zealand could be the last, Fitzpatrick stressed how much the concept means not only to the those in the British Isles and Ireland, but also in his home country.
"I cannot believe what I'm hearing coming out of Britain at the moment. This is the biggest thing in rugby outside of the Rugby World Cup," said Fitzpatrick.
"The Lions are phenomenal. We should not even be discussing [the tour being the last].
"It is all very well talking about that if you are 12,000 miles away, and I understand the arguments in terms of a global season. But this tour is what rugby is all about.
"I love the professional game and everything about it, but we need to be a little bit old-school occasionally. The Lions are very much part of our history and the fabric of what we are.
"I have never seen Eden Park like it was last week - a sea of red for an All Blacks game, which was bizarre. It says a lot about the Lions supporters and how good they are."
Current All Blacks captain Kieran Read also endorsed keeping the concept alive when addressing the media on Friday, rejecting suggestions that a poor result for the Lions in the second Test and overall in the series would kill off future tours.
"I don't think that will happen," Read told reporters. "It has just been so exciting being around the country over the last couple of weeks and seeing the supporters from both sides. The fans are so passionate about the game. I'm sure it will continue."
Fitzpatrick went on to criticise national newspaper the New Zealand Herald for their clown front-page of Lions coach Warren Gatland earlier in the week, while adding that the Lions had a better chance of winning the second Test than the first encounter at Eden Park.
"I was so disappointed on Tuesday with that clown front page about Gatland, purely because it has no reflection at all on what the tour has been like," explained Fitzpatrick.
"The anticipation here is still that the Lions could win, which is phenomenal when you consider how well the All Blacks have been playing.
"I said from the start the Lions will not win the first Test. But potentially, if they get it right, they could win the second one."