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Friday, 18 January, 2019

Warburton returns to lead side for Highlanders clash

Lions four-point favourites in Dunedin

Sam Warburton will lead the Lions against the Highlanders
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Lions skipper Sam Warburton has shaken off concerns over his ankle injury and been named to lead the team for Tuesday's match against the Otago Highlanders.

The Wales flanker started the first match against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians but picked up a knock.

Fly-half Dan Biggar has also been passed fit after failing a head-injury assessment in the 22-16 defeat to the Blues and combines with Ospreys and Wales teammate Rhys Webb.

Jared Payne, who has been struggling with a calf problem, starts at full-back.

Head coach Warren Gatland said: "Each game is a chance for individuals to shine but more importantly it's about a collective performance. We are building some momentum and we have improved with every game.

"We were obviously pleased with the win against the Crusaders, especially our defence and game management, but we know the Highlanders will be another massive test for us as a squad."

Opponents the Highlanders are ranked fourth of the five teams in the Super Rugby New Zealand Conference. They lost three of their first four fixtures in this campaign - all to fellow Kiwi sides - before going on a nine-match winning streak that came to an end this month at the hands of the all-conquering Crusaders, who beat them 25-22 in Christchurch thanks to a last-minute drop goal.

Bookmakers have set the handicap at four or five points for the clash under the roof at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Lions team: J Payne; J Nowell, J Joseph, R Henshaw, T Seymour; D Biggar, R Webb; J Marler, R Best, K Sinckler, C Lawes, I Henderson, J Haskell, S Warburton, CJ Stander. Replacements: K Owens, J McGrath, D Cole, A-W Jones, J Tipuric, G Laidlaw, O Farrell, E Daly.

Opponents the Highlanders are ranked fourth of the five teams in the Super Rugby New Zealand Conference
E.W. Terms
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