British & Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland wants his side to take confidence from their victories against the Crusaders and Maori All Blacks into tomorrow’s first Test against the All Blacks in Auckland (kick-off 8.35am BST).
The first of three Test matches to be shown live on the big screen at London Irish’s Hazelwood training complex, the talking is now over and the two rugby institutions are set to collide.
“We squeezed the life out of the Crusaders and the Maori All Blacks and we won’t stop being aggressive defensively,” said Gatland.
“I think we’ve played some lovely rugby. We struggled at the start of the tour, but we’ve outscored opponents nine tries to three in the last four games.”
Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony skippers the Lions at Eden Park, with tour captain Sam Warburton among the replacements. Welshman Liam Williams and England’s Elliot Daly are named in the back three alongside former London Irish flyer Anthony Watson.
Maro Itoje, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the game, misses out to former Lions skipper Alun Wynn Jones in the second row but is on the replacements bench.
Gatland said: “We know it’s going to be a tough encounter. Let’s let rugby do the talking because there’s been enough trash talking already.
“Let’s get excited about what could be a fantastic series. A couple of sideline things have taken the focus away from that.”
British & Irish Lions (v New Zealand, 1st Test, Saturday, 24 June, 7.35pm NZST, 8.35am BST)
15. Liam Williams – Scarlets, Wales, #833
14. Anthony Watson – Bath Rugby, England, #816
13. Jonathan Davies – Scarlets, Wales, #778
12. Ben Te’o – Worcester Warriors, England, #815
11. Elliot Daly – Wasps, England, #822
10. Owen Farrell – Saracens, England, #780
9. Conor Murray – Munster, Ireland, #790
1. Mako Vunipola – Saracens, England, #787
2. Jamie George – Saracens, England, #819
3. Tadhg Furlong – Leinster, Ireland, #818
4. Alun Wyn Jones – Ospreys, Wales, #761
5. George Kruis – Saracens, England, #817
6. Peter O’Mahony (capt) – Munster, Ireland, #832
7. Sean O’Brien – Leinster, Ireland, #796
8. Taulupe Faletau – Bath Rugby, Wales, #779
16. Ken Owens – Scarlets, Wales, #829
17. Jack McGrath – Leinster, Ireland, #827
18. Kyle Sinckler – Harlequins, England, #814
19. Maro Itoje – Saracens, England, #825
20. Sam Warburton – Cardiff Blues, Wales, #800
21. Rhys Webb – Ospreys, Wales, #820
22. Johnny Sexton – Leinster, Ireland, #791
23. Leigh Halfpenny – Toulon, Wales, #775
The # followed by a number denotes the order in which the player was called up since the first tour in 1888.
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