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Lions have high hopes for second Test

BRITISH and Irish Lions coach Shaun Edwards believes extreme altitude training will stop their Test series hopes disappearing into thin air on Saturday.<br /><br />A fixture the Lions cannot afford to lose will be made even harder by its location: Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, some 5,000 feet above sea level.<br /><br />The tourists struggled with similarly gruelling low-oxygen conditions during their match against the Royal XV in Rustenburg 26 days ago.<br /><br />But Edwards is confident the altitude masks in which players have been made to work out will help them level the series with victory in the second Test.<br /><br />&ldquo;They set the masks at 7,500 feet, which is higher than we will be playing. When you see the pain on the players&rsquo; faces when they are cycling with the masks it is obviously hurting them a bit,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />&ldquo;Loftus Versfeld at the moment is probably the hardest place to play rugby in the world, because of the altitude. I know we will be in better shape going back to altitude than when we first went there.&rdquo;<br /><br />One player who will not have to cope with the conditions is Nathan Hines, who was yesterday banned for Saturday&rsquo;s clash. The Scotland lock was given a week-long suspension after being cited for a dangerous tackle in Tuesday&rsquo;s draw against the Emerging Springboks.<br /><br />Hines was only an outside contender for a place in Ian McGeechan&rsquo;s side, but the head coach has several other key calls to make as he bids to maintain his record of never losing a second Test in three prior tours.<br /><br />The top priority is finding a way to nullify Springboks loosehead Tendai Mtawarira, who bulldozed Phil Vickery in the first Test, which the home side won 26-21.<br /><br />Hooker Matthew Rees and prop Adam Jones are being tipped to be selected alongside Gethin Jenkins in an all-Welsh front row.<br /><br />In the backs, England winger Ugo Monye&rsquo;s place is under threat from Ireland&rsquo;s Luke Fitzgerald and Welshman Shane Williams.