ROTORUA, New Zealand — Peter O’Mahony will captain the British & Irish Lions against the Maori All Blacks on Saturday with Johnny Sexton named at fly-half.
The team selected is expected to be close to the 15 that will start the first Test against the All Blacks with Sexton given the fly-half reins. It is his second start of the tour with Owen Farrell on the bench where Sam Warburton is named among the replacements.
Elsewhere Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Tadhg Furlong get the nod in the front-row with Maro Itoje and George Kruis linking up in the second-row. O’Mahony starts at blindside with Sean O’Brien at openside and Taulupe Faletau at No.8.
Tom Hamilton pays a visit to Stonehenge Farm, the remote home of one of New Zealand’s most decorated hookers, Andrew Hore.
Craig Dowd believes the British & Irish Lions, now they are four games into their tour of New Zealand, are ticking along nicely, and improving, in all areas of their game but one.
Conor Murray is at scrum-half with Sexton outside him with Ben Te’o and Jonathan Davies named in the centres. Anthony Watson, George North and Leigh Halfpenny form the back three.
“At this stage of the Tour it is important to build on the foundations that have been laid in the last few weeks,” Gatland said. “We were obviously disappointed with the loss against the Highlanders and realise that we need to improve in several areas, including our discipline, but we feel that overall we are building well towards the Test matches.
“Every game is a big challenge, which is what we wanted, and this is an experienced Lions team with eight of the starting 15 involved in the last Test in Australia in 2013.”
Gatland added: “Peter is a proven captain with Munster who never takes a backward step and we believe that those leadership qualities will serve us well on Saturday against a quality and determined Maori All Blacks team.”
British & Irish Lions: Leigh Halfpenny, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Davies, Ben Te’o, George North, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Peter O’Mahony (captain), Sean O’Brien, Taulupe Faletau
Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Iain Henderson, Sam Warburton, Greig Laidlaw, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly
www.espn.co.uk – RUGBY