More than 2,500 locals pitched up in North Harbour this week to watch the likes of Peel and Cooper train with the Lions and the opportunity gave Peel his first real insight into what a Lions tour really means. On Saturday the Scarlets' inside half will get his first opportunity to prove that he is very much the leading candidate to face the All Blacks in Christchurch on June 25th.
Along with fellow Welshmen Tom Shanklin, Gethin Jenkins, Gavin Henson and Martyn Williams, Peel will play against the Bay of Plenty in Rotorua's International Stadium.
"I felt privileged to be training in front of so many people and to have a chance to work a few of the local youngsters who came along. It was also a privilege to be working alongside someone like Lawrence Dallaglio," said Peel. "Every single player on this tour believes he has a chance of playing in the Test matches and that has been made very clear to us too.
"Personally I am delighted to have got such an early chance to lay down a marker. I have already told myself to make the most of the opportunity and make sure that I don't miss out on the chance to lay down an early marker."
Woodward's decision to name a particularly strong XV for the game is almost certainly the result of last week against Argentina. Although the coach refuses to admit as much, the XV on duty have more than a realistic chance of starting in Christchurch.
Peel's direct opposition on Saturday will come from the Bay's key figure - Charles Hubbard, a player rated by the All Blacks' coaching staff as a 'real handful'. However, with Peel in dynamic form this season and with the likes of Dallaglio, Martyn Williams and Richard Hill on his shoulder, the Lions should enjoy a relatively straightforward start at a rain-sodden Rotorua International Stadium.
Peel said, "We had a great welcome in Rotorua when we went up there at the weekend, but I can't imagine that we will as good a welcome this Saturday."