Following a somewhat lacklustre win over NZ Provincial Barbarians on Saturday, the Lions team to face Super Rugby side, the Blues, on Wednesday has been announced.
There’s no place for Sean O’Brien, yet, but the Tullow man is expected to feature in Saturday’s game, something we’ll be looking at on Friday’s podcast. Welsh hooker Ken Owens will lead the side out in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Jared Payne, who missed the opening fixture, will start at 13 while Robbie Henshaw, Jack McGrath and CJ Stander will all be involved from the off.
Rory Best, Iain Henderson and Johnny Sexton are named among the replacements.
Head coach Warren Gatland has made 15 changes, with Owns one of eleven players making their Lions debut at Eden Park.
“We have made 15 changes to the starting XV and we are excited to see what this team is able to do against the Blues”, says Gatland.
“We have stated from the off that we want to give every player a start in the first three games and Wednesday is an opportunity for this set of players to show what they can do in a Lions jersey. It was good to get the win under our belts last weekend. The boys in the stand were itching to get their chance and they are really excited about Wednesday.”
“In terms of Ken, he has worked really hard on his recovery and it’s great to have him available. He has captained the Scarlets and has assumed a leadership role within the camp and it is a great opportunity for him. We are expecting a big crowd at Eden Park. It will be the first of three matches there for us and we know the atmosphere will be outstanding. We are hoping for some good weather and are expecting a tough, fast and open game of rugby.”
“We have a few work ons from last weekend and we know we need to be more clinical. We created some good opportunities against the Barbarians but didn’t see them through and that is something we want to improve on.”
British & Irish Lions v the Blues
15. Leigh Halfpenny – Toulon, Wales, #775
14. Jack Nowell – Exeter Chiefs, England
13. Jared Payne – Ulster, Ireland
12. Robbie Henshaw – Leinster, Ireland
11. Elliot Daly – Wasps, England
10. Dan Biggar – Ospreys, Wales
9. Rhys Webb – Ospreys, Wales, #820
1. Jack McGrath – Leinster, Ireland
2. Ken Owens (Capt) – Scarlets, Wales
3. Dan Cole Leicester Tigers, England, #794
4. Maro Itoje – Saracens, England
5. Courtney Lawes – Northampton Saints, England
6. James Haskell – Wasps, England
7. Justin Tipuric – Ospreys, Wales,#786
8. CJ Stander – Munster, Ireland
16. Rory Best – Ulster, Ireland, #793
17. Joe Marler – Harlequins, England, #811
18. Kyle Sinckler – Harlequins, England, #814
19. Iain Henderson – Ulster, Ireland, #808
20. Peter O’Mahony – Munster, Ireland
21. Greig Laidlaw – Gloucester, Scotland, #810
22. Johnny Sexton – Leinster, Ireland, #791
23. Liam Williams – Scarlets, Wales