British and Irish Lions v New Zealand Barbarians – Preview, team news – Kick off 8:35am Irish time

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Updated: June 3, 2017
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Preview and team news for the opening match for the British and Irish Lions who play New Zealand Barbarians kick off 8:35am Irish time on Saturday. 

Just after touching down in Auckland, Gatland unveiled his first starting XV of the Tour and the majority of the players that were in training camp from the first week in the Vale of Glamorgan have been trusted to lay down a marker.

But while the Head Coach must set about knitting together the best of the best from across the four home nations – there are a number of familiar combinations in his first side.

Harlequins and England props Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler pack down in the front row either side of Ireland captain Rory Best.

There is also an all-Welsh back-row with captain Sam Warburton thrust straight into the action on the openside with Taulupe Faletau and Ross Moriarty at No 8 and blindside respectively.

That trio started all three Tests for Wales against the All Blacks last summer and will support Alun Wyn Jones and Irishman Iain Henderson in the boiler room.

Behind the scrum it is an all-English midfield with Ben Te’o and Jonathan Joseph paired together while fly half Johnny Sexton – who knows Te’o well from their time together at Leinster – is joined by the experienced Greig Laidlaw in the half-backs.

Click here for all the best images from training at QBE Stadium

Laidlaw is joined by his fellow Scots Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour at full-back and wing respectively with Anthony Watson on the other wing.

There are four Saracens players on a powerful bench in the form of Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, George Kruis and Owen Farrell.

Tadhg Furlong is the replacement tighthead with Welshmen Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb joined by Elliot Daly – a late call-up for the injured Jared Payne – and all will be itching to enter the fray.

SQUAD UPDATE: Jared Payne ruled out of the opening  Tour match due to a calf strain. Elliot Daly comes in on the bench. 

 

WHAT THEY’VE BEEN SAYING

Head Coach Warren Gatland on the importance of momentum on Tour:

“We have to go out there and win on Saturday, there is no doubt. It’s important we get the Tour off to a good start.”

Prop Kyle Sinckler – who starts for the Lions before starting for his country:

“I have always been a fan of the Lions and I always will be so it’s a massive honour to put on the jersey this weekend and hopefully I leave it in a better place.”

Fly half Jonathan Sexton – who started all three Test for the Lions four years ago:

“I think it’s a clean slate. No one is going to say – oh he did really well four years ago so we will put him in. It will depend on form from here until the first Test and how well you do.”

OPPONENTS

Taking their inspiration from the UK Barbarians, the NZ Barbarians were founded in 1937 by former All Black Hugh McLeanand count a number of famous alumni like Sean Fitzpatrick and Sir John Kirwan.

In 2015 they claimed an impressive win over the Maori All Blacks but the 2017 generation are the first incarnation of the Provincial Barbarians and are coached by Bay of Plenty’s Clayton McMillan.

The 23-man largely semi-professional squad has been drawn from players across 14 different provincial sides in New Zealand including local Northland boy Matt Matic.

But there is little doubt who is the name on most people’s lips: Bryn Gatland – son of Warren – wears the No 10 shirt take on his father’s side.

HEAD TO HEAD: Jonathan Sexton v Bryn Gatland

With Owen Farrell and Dan Biggar both battling for the No 10 shirt as well, it is Sexton who gets first crack on Tour.

And the Leinsterman – who masterminded Ireland’s famous win over the All Blacks last year in Chicago – will not have to look far for tips on his opposite man Bryn Gatland.

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