Monday, 20 August, 2018

Lions name team to face Maori All Blacks

A British and Irish Lions supporter looks on prior to the match against the Highlanders DIANNE MANSON GETTY IMAGES A British and Irish Lions supporter looks on prior to the match against the Highlanders
Rita Gibson | 28 June, 2017, 16:25

O'Mahony's status as captain could prove something of a statement of pecking order ahead of the first Test against the All Blacks on June 24, with Warburton racing against time to be fully fit for New Zealand.

Farrell and Sexton linked well against the Crusaders.

"There's always those discussions, but we felt Owen's had a bit of rugby at the moment", Gatland explained.

The Maori All Blacks have selected nine New Zealand internationals in a strong side for Saturday's clash with the British and Irish Lions.

Scottish winger Tommy Seymour put the Lions into the lead just after the restart, beating Fekitoa in the air as he tried to gather Naholo's cross-field kick.

The 1989 series was the first time in 90 years that the Lions had won a series after falling behind - they overcame an opening 13-3 loss to beat Australia 3-1 in 1899.

"We know we're going to have our backs against the wall every single game when we're here, and we've got to stick together as a 41-man squad, the staff and everyone".

Asked if the scrum had cost the Lions the match, Gatland said: "It has".

All Blacks Akira Ioane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Rieko Ioane are all named in the starting 15 for the home side.

Replacements: Hikawera Elliot, Chris Eves, Marcel Renata, Leighton Price, Kara Pryor, Bryn Hall, Ihaia West, Rob Thompson.

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Elswehere, Ben Te'o is alongside Jonathan Davies in the midfield, with George North, Anthony Watson and Leigh Halfpenny in the back three.

Gatland and his coaches are content that Farrell has enough game time and form under his belt at this stage to take a place on the bench, and the Lions boss hinted that we will see him come onto the pitch at inside centre.

The first Test takes place on June 24 at Eden Park and history suggests it will be hard for the losing team to bounce back.

Liam Williams does not feature in the matchday squad for the second successive game.

The bulk of the starting XV is the same as the side that defeated the Crusaders in Christchurch last Saturday but Maro Itoje will combine with his Saracens' club-mate George Kruis in the second-row and Sexton has been invited to control affairs at 10 alongside his compatriot Conor Murray.

Gatland says a fixture against the Maori is one of the "unique spectacles in world rugby".

Rory Best has promised the British and Irish Lions will launch a wide-ranging inquest into their Highlanders defeat.

In a powerful backline, winger Nehe Milner-Skudder has a chance to play himself back into the All Blacks after nearly 16 months out with a shoulder injury and a broken foot. "We feel Damian will suit the game plan that we want to play, from the number 10 position", Cooper said.

"We show ourselves in the foot with some turnovers and penalties in the last 10 minutes".

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