Lions tour: British and Irish Lions name 23 for tour match against the Maori All Blacks

  • 15/06/2017
Lions players dejected after loss to the Highlanders (Photosport)
Lions players dejected after loss to the Highlanders (Photosport)

British and Irish Lions' Test XV is no closer to resolution, with an unexpectedly mixed squad named to take on the Maori All Blacks.

Head coach Warren Gatland has made a full 15 changes to the side that fell 23-22 to the Highlanders on Tuesday, reverting partly to those who secured victory with a defensively flawless performance against the Crusaders in Christchurch.

But a number of likely Test regulars, including first-five Owen Farrell, lock Alun Wyn Jones, hooker Ken Owens and tighthead Dan Cole, are not in the XV.

Nor is skipper Sam Warburton, with Irish loose forward Peter O'Mahony to captain the Test selection for the first time in their "unofficial fourth Test".

Irishman Conor Murray will be joined by compatriot Johnny Sexton in the halves, while Leigh Halfpenny looks to have the inside running on Stuart Hogg's No.15 jumper.

In the midfield, Ben Te'o and Jonathan Davies will be relied upon to put the Lions on the front foot, with George North and Anthony Watson outside them on each wing.

Up front, Mako Vunipola is joined by hooker Jamie George and Irish tighthead Tadhg Furlong, with Maro Itoje and George Kruis behind them.

O'Mahony, Irish bulldozer Sean O'Brien and Welsh No.8 Taulupe Faletau, a near certainty for the Tests, make up the Lions' loose forward trio.

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.

He said his side would need to keep building for the Tests, which start next Saturday in Auckland and proceed over the following two weeks.

"We were obviously disappointed with the loss against the Highlanders and realise that we need to improve in several areas, including our discipline," Gatland said.

"But we feel that overall we are building well.

"Every game is a big challenge, which is what we wanted."

British and Irish Lions:

15.Leigh Halfpenny, 14.Anthony Watson, 13.Jonathan Davies, 12.Ben Te'o, 11.George North, 10.Johnny Sexton, 9.Conor Murray, 8.Taulupe Faletau, 7.Sean O'Brien, 6.Peter O'Mahony (c), 5.George Kruis, 4.Maro Itoje, 3.Tadhg Furlong, 2.Jamie George, 1.Mako Vunipola.

Reserves:  16.Ken Owens, 17.Jack McGrath, 18.Kyle Sinckler, 19.Iain Henderson, 20.Sam Warburton, 21.Greig Laidlaw, 22.Owen Farrell, 23.Elliot Daly.

NZN