Skipper Warburton evens to start first Lions Test
Sexton favourite to take fly-half berth
Sam Warburton was yesterday named as captain for this summer’s Lions tour to New Zealand having been backed into long odds-on to be given the honour, but the Wales flanker is only an even-money chance with Hills to start the first Test in the number seven shirt.
Warburton is unlikely to play for his club Cardiff again this season as he recovers from a knee injury but is aiming to be fit for the first showdown with the All Blacks in Auckland on June 24.
In the key positions, Hills go 1-3 that Ireland’s Johnny Sexton starts at fly-half, though England’s Owen Farrell is odds-on to play at inside centre as he did for England in the Six Nations.
It’s 4-11 that Sexton’s half-back partner is Ireland teammate Conor Murray.
Hills – to start first Test: shirt number one: 11-10 J McGrath, 5-4 M Vunipola, 5 J Marler; two: 4-7 R Best, 3 K Owens, 4 J George; three: 3-10 T Furlong, 4 D Cole, 8 K Sinckler; four or five: 1-5 A-W Jones, 1-2 M Itoje, 13-8 G Kruis, 7 C Lawes, 7 I Henderson; six: 11-0 CJ Stander, P O’Mahoney, 4 S Warburton, 6 M Itoje, 9 J Tipuric; seven: Evs S Warburton, S O’Brien, 10-3 J Tipuric, 12 R Moriarty; eight: 2-5 Billy Vunipola, 9-2 T Faletula. 10 CJ Stander, 10 P O’Mahony, 25 R Moriarty; nine: 4-11 C Murray, 3 R Webb, 9 B Youngs; ten: 1-3 J Sexton, 3 O Farrell, 10 D Biggar; 11 or 14: 1-4 G North, Evs A Watson, 6-5 L Williams, 5 J Nowell, 7 E Daly, 8 T Seymour; 12: 2-5 O Farrell, 3 R Henshaw, 7 B Te’o; 13: 4-5 J Joseph, 11-4 J Davies, 7 J Payne, 10 E Daly, 12 R Henshaw; 15: 4-11 S Hogg, 3 L Halfpenny, 12 L Williams, 20 A Watson, 25 J Payne.