Denton has lofty ambitions
Scotland number eight David Denton aims to build on his first season as an international by ending his second touring Australia with the Lions.
The 22-year-old was one of the few Scotland players to enhance their reputations in a poor 2011-12 season, which finished on a high with the June tour wins in Australia, Fiji and Samoa.
Denton missed the trip with an ankle injury and has made a slow start to the season with Edinburgh.
He also knows to fulfil his ambition of a Lions touring place that he must first break into the Scotland team, a task made all the tougher with Kelly Brown named as captain this week.
Denton, who like Brown can play at number eight and blindside flanker, said: "A lot of people have been talking to me about second-season syndrome.
"It's a massive goal of mine to make sure that doesn't happen.
"I've got to get us on the front foot and them on the back foot. If I do that, that's essentially me doing my job well.
"I've thought about that a lot, as everyone does in a Lions year.
"But at the moment I just need to focus on getting my position in the Scotland team, which I'm going to have to work very hard for."
Brown's promotion to skipper means at least one position in the back row is occupied for the November 11 EMC Autumn Test against world champions New Zealand.
But the fact Saracens' Brown can play number eight or on the flank gives head coach Andy Robinson options in a competitive and quality back row.
Ross Rennie and John Barclay are the options at openside flanker.
Brown could play at number eight, with Alasdair Strokosch at number six, or Denton at eight and Brown at six. Stuart McInally is also a versatile option, but has been named in the Edinburgh side this weekend so is therefore unlikely to feature against the All Blacks.
Denton is not in the Edinburgh squad, so is in the mix to add to his first six caps, including five appearances in the ill-fated 2012 RBS 6 Nations campaign.
"I'm really looking forward to it, if selected," he added.
"It's a massive opportunity and to play the best team in the world is something every professional wants to do.
"The back row will probably be (Richie) McCaw, (Liam) Messam and (Kieran) Read. Those are three of the household names of world back rows.
"It's not good enough to go out there and play them. We want to go out there and be better than them.
"We've got to challenge them physically, particularly the forwards and particularly myself individually. The way I play it's got to be a big physical battle.
"We've got to go out there, take them on up front and really get our heads down and work."
Hard graft is something Strokosch is renowned for and it may be enough to get him the nod.
The 29-year-old is hoping for a 29th cap and a first appearance against New Zealand a week on Sunday, knowing Scotland must build on their performances in the southern hemisphere.
Strokosch, who moved to Perpignan from Gloucester this summer, said: "We've been in the position before when we've had a good summer tour and then disappointed afterwards.
"It's the same challenge we have every time we get into a good position is to continue it and improve on it.
"We've got to play better than we ever have as a team, as a Scotland team.
"We've got to be ruthless, make it uncomfortable for them and make sure we're 100 per cent accurate.
"Everyone here is a good player if they play to their potential and we have to do that if we're going to beat New Zealand."