Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

Gatland drafts in reserves for Lions; Donald to lead Chiefs

Gatland drafts in reserves for Lions; Donald to lead Chiefs

Saturday's win in Rotorua was by far the Lions' best performance in five tour matches to date, improving their record to three wins and two losses and providing the best showcase yet for the style of play they will adopt throughout the test series.

Reserves: 16.Kristian Dacey, 17.Allan Dell, 18.Tomas Francis, 19.Cory Hill, 20.Alun Wyn Jones, 21.Gareth Davies, 22.Finn Russell, 23.Tommy Seymour. It's part of the game in New Zealand.

"But why not call up the players who just missed out on selection in the first place?"

But the fact they are in the midweek team, playing just four days before the first Test can not be ignored and Tommy Seymour's place on the bench on Tuesday suggests his chances of featuring against the All Blacks are slim.

Ireland hooker Rory Best has been named a skipper and head coach Gatland said: "We are here to win a Test series and we have brought cover for the replacements' bench so we can limit the number of players who need to double up, which is tough to do at this level of rugby".

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"We've just got to handle that and just hope the referees, the assistant referees and the TMOs pick up what's going on".

Warren Gatland is refusing to offer Sam Warburton any guarantees that he will be used against New Zealand in the British and Irish Lions' opening test next week. Unfortunately he rolled his ankle a little bit so hadn't recovered in time.

It leaves the Lions with the positive conundrum of fitting Sexton, Farrell, Ben Te'o, Jonathan Davies and Jonathan Joseph into their 10-12-13 combination for Saturday's first Test.

Gatland says there are final decisions "still to be made at lock, back-row, the back three as well, and midfield too" and the coaches will meet on Wednesday to finalise selection, but the dilemmas in all areas bar the wingers and fullback are likely to be a case of juggling between two names.

"I've always been confident about Owen being fit for the weekend". The Ulsterman packs down with England props Joe Marler and Dan Cole while Courtney Lawes has completed his return to play protocols following a concussion against the Highlanders last Tuesday and will form a second-row partnership with Ireland's Iain Henderson.

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Center Tim Nanai-Williams, who played for Samoa against the All Blacks in Auckland on Friday, is the next most-experienced member of the Chiefs lineup with 82 appearances. We're in pretty good shape at the moment.

Flanker Lachlan Boshier, replacement prop Aidan Ross and replacement back Luteru Laulala have already played against the Lions.

"The amount of support that I've had personally has just been awesome and I experienced that in the World Cup here in 2011, the amount of Waikato people who supported Wales when we played here against Fiji and Samoa was incredible".

"There's an opportunity for Liam Williams to go and impress at full-back".

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