Shanklin will come up against New Zealand's form player in Hamilton tomorrow morning when the Lions take on the New Zealand Maoris at Waikato Stadium, but the Cardiff Blues star has warned Gear that he is no pushover, despite all the attention being focussed on the Canterbury star this week.
Gear is a warm favourite to take over from either Doug Howlett or Joe Rococoko in the first Test in Christchurch after performing so well for the Canterbury Crusaders during this season's Super 12 Championship. Having run in half a dozen tries in the competition to finish as one of the most valuable players of 2005, Gear arrives in Hamilton with expectations understandably high.
However, for Shanklin, who capped his first Lions performance against the Bay of Plenty with a decisive second half try said: "I know people are talking about Gear and Caleb Ralph, but what about them? Perhaps they are talking about Tom Shanklin and Shane Williams.
"To be honest it doesn't matter what people say, it's all about what happens on the pitch. The victories over the Bay and Taranaki have given us a good start and although this will be the most significant test yet, we are in good spirits and hope to maintain that unbeaten run. It's great to be here and to have a second chance to try and cement myself in the side."
Shanklin is joined by fellow Welsh internationals Shane Williams, Martyn Williams, Michael Owen, who came in for the injured Simon Taylor yesterday evening and Stephen Jones who gets his first start after arriving in New Zealand ten days late due to club commitments with Clermont Auvergne.
He said: "It has been an enjoyable few days since I arrived, but this is where the serious stuff starts. To get picked in the side is a real honour, but now it's up to me to prove that I warrant my place in the side. Ronan (O'Gara) played well against the Bay and I thought Charlie (Hodgson) was fantastic against Taranaki, he hardly put a foot wrong. That's the level of competition you face up to. You are constantly playing with the best players and subsequently battling against them for a place in the team."
Jones will team up with Matt Dawson tomorrow as Sir Clive Woodward goes with his fourth different half back partnership. Gareth Cooper and Jonny Wilkinson played against Argentina in Cardiff; Dwayne Peel linked up with O'Gara in Rotorua and Chris Cusiter, who had been a second half replacement against the Pumas teamed up with Hodgson in New Plymouth on Wednesday.
"It's good to see all of these guys playing with different partners and to be truthful that is what we said we would do from the outset. We need to see which is the best partnership before we make our selection for the first Test," said Woodward. Dawson's experience will certainly be of some assistance to Jones, although on the evidence of this season's successful RBS Six Nations Championship, Jones appears to be capable of standing on his own two feet.
For Owen, who was initially named on the bench, the continuing hamstring problems for Taylor means he will get one last chance to impress before returning home on Sunday to attend the birth of his second child. He plays in a back row alongside countryman Martyn Williams and England's Richard Hill. It promises to be an uncompromising battle; at a venue where Wales were beaten two years ago and Colin Charvis left the stadium unconscious and in an ambulance following a clash with Jerry Collins.
British & Irish Lions v New Zealand Maoris
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Saturday 11 June 2005, 8.10am (BST)
British & Irish Lions
Brian O'Driscoll (Captain)
Paul O'Connell (Vice Captain)
New Zealand Maori
Jono Gibbes (captain)