Published: Fri, June 23, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Lions name team to face Maori All Blacks


Gatland is also backing O'Mahony to to impress on Saturday.

If Farrell does not recover in time then it is likely Johnny Sexton will take the responsibility of filling the playmaker role.

Farrell was tipped to be the Lions' most influential player in the Test series, which kicks off at Eden Park next Saturday.

O'Mahony is the captain of Munster at club level, and Gatland backed him to rise to the occasion in the red shirt against a fearsome Maori opponent. For us, this is a strong side but we've got to make sure we're not showing our hand.

"You've got to do it justice, not just for yourself but for everything the Lions stands for, for the guys that don't get the chance at the weekend, you're playing for the 41 and everything that goes behind". But he will have a big job to replace Farrell.

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Naholo missed four Super Rugby games this year with a hamstring injury and another through suspension.

Warburton arrived on tour under an injury cloud having not played since April due to a knee injury and only returned to action in the opening match against the Provincial Barbarians, a 13-7 victory.

"He was just down a little bit of confidence and he's got a bit of his mojo back at the moment, so we wanted to give him a start against the Māoris".

The backline includes three of the most exciting of the younger generation of All Blacks backs - Nehe Milner-Skudder, Damian McKenzie and Reiko Ioane, along with centre Charlie Ngatai and scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow. I was back home in Southland, I actually remember they played the Stags, and I fondly remember my brother was actually ball boy for that game. His parents still live in Manly, but Te'o appears to have no affection for the All Blacks.

Both brought enormous energy and ability to the table to turn over their visitors, and Carter said their celebrations afterwards were testament to just how much this tour means to the people and the players.

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So deadpan was Te'o about Williams and the All Blacks you'd have to hope he was deliberately underplaying things.

"Hopefully I did", he said.

However lock Wyn Jones, who captained against the Crusaders, did not even make the matchday 23, with Gatland preferring England's Maro Itoje in the second row backed by Iain Henderson on the bench.

"Gardner will have done that too, so I think he'd have a pretty good idea about how the Lions have been scrummaging and how Cole, in particular, has a reputation for testing the laws with his bind".

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.

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"It is an area of strength for us and I don't think we are going to let one scrum penalty completely derail us but it is something we have to take a look at".

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