Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is targeting a starting place with the Lions after being brought into the squad as a replacement for Ben Youngs.
The 31-year-old received the call on Saturday from Warren Gatland when after learning his brother Tom’s wife is terminally ill.
“I’ve been a competitor all my life, that’s one of my strengths,” Laidlaw said.
“I want to start. It’s making sure when I get an opportunity that I take it.”
Laidlaw admitted his involvement with the Lions squad came under difficult circumstances, with Youngs pulling out to support his brother.
The Scot made his first start for Gloucester at the weekend after two outings off the bench following nine weeks out injured, but says he is close to 100% fitness and ready to take his chance in New Zealand.
“First and foremost, everybody’s thoughts are with Tom, with Ben and the whole of the Youngs family,” Laidlaw said.
“I never got the call until late on Saturday night, so it’s a quick turnaround. I’ve got a few things going on, I’m moving clubs [to Clermont Auvergne], so the house is getting packed up as we speak. I was planning to move out today, so I’m pretty busy on that front. I’m delighted to be here and to get started.
“Because it’s happened so quick and the logistics of getting down here, it’s probably not [sunk in], but it will in the next few days. We’ve potentially got a few games left with Gloucester this season, so my focus will be on that and trying to win some silverware with them in the Challenge Cup final on Friday night, and potentially the play-offs as well. Then we’ll look forward to the Lions.
“I’m well over 90% (fitness-wise) now and you don’t want to be playing if you’re not close to 100%, but nobody’s ever quite 100% these days. I feel good and that’s credit to the strength and conditioning team and the physios down at Gloucester.”
Laidlaw joins Glasgow Warriors duo Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour in the Lions squad and says he is “delighted” to have added to the Scottish contingent travelling to New Zealand.
“You fly the Scottish flag, you’re an ambassador for your country and for your team-mates when you come away on trips like this,” Laidlaw said.
“I just caught up with Hoggy and Tommy this morning and the Scottish boys on the trip will put our best foot forward. They were pretty happy to see me, and I was with them, they’re a couple of good boys.
“To work with different coaches is a great thing, you can always try to learn something new and clearly the coaches on this tour are vastly experienced. There are brilliant players throughout the squad as well, so you just try hard to work with everybody and get the best out of each other. For us to be successful, we will need that to happen.”