Warburton to lead his Lions in Whangarei opener
NZ Provincial Barbarians get a 31-point start
The British & Irish Lions landed in New Zealand on Wednesday and head coach Warren Gatland has wasted little time in naming his matchday 23 for Saturday’s tour opener against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei.
Tour skipper Sam Warburton will lead the side as part of an all-Wales back-row. Greig Laidlaw and Johnny Sexton are the half-back pairing. Ireland captain Rory Best is the hooker between England’s two Quins’ props Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler. There is a Red Rose partnership in midfield too with Ben Te’o and Jonathan Joseph.
Alun-Wyn Jones and Iain Henderson are the starting locks, while Tommy Seymour, Anthony Watson and Stuart Hogg are the back three.
None of the 11 players involved in last weekend's domestic club matches have been chosen, while Wales hooker Ken Owens was never considered for selection after missing the Scarlets’ stunning Pro12 playoff successes over Leinster and Munster.
Gatland’s son Bryn is expected to start at fly-half for the Provincial Barbarians, who get a 31-point start.
Early weather forecasts for kick-off time in Whangarei – a two-hour drive north of Auckland – have showers and gusty winds after a rainy day.
British & Irish Lions v NZ Provincial Barbarians
Line-up: S Hogg; A Watson, J Joseph, B Te’o, T Seymour; J Sexton, G Laidlaw; J Marler, R Best, K Sinckler, A-W Jones, I Henderson, R Moriarty, S Warburton, T Faletau; replacements: J George, M Vunipola, T Furlong, G Kruis, J Tipuric, R Webb, O Farrell, J Payne.
Best early handicaps: 10-11 British & Irish Lions -30, Evs NZ Provincial Barbarians +31, 20 Draw +30, 25 Draw +31.