Warren Gatland has now named his side to face the Maori All Blacks in the third weekend fixture of the New Zealand tour. Saturday will be a true test for any name who wants to stay in the side for next weeks encounter with the All Blacks.
It will be interesting to see what Saturdays performance will be like, with the side being closest to the one that will face New Zealand next week. Although Sam Warburton is back in action, it is Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony who will take the captaincy role as Warburton starts from the bench down to just getting back from injury.
It will also be interesting to see what the England pairing of George Kruis and Maro Itoje do at second row, with them both winning a spot down to Alun Wyn-Jones being rested for the first test. Both have showed true quality since their arrival on the England scene, and Lions fans will be hoping they can do the same on Saturday and potentially next week if they put in a show in two days time, but it will be tough for them to push Jones out of his position.
One big factor in Saturdays line up is the missing Owen Farrell, who will sit out down to suffering a quadriceps strain; with his impressive performances so far, he will be sorely missed if he is not back fit for the first test.
Gatland has stated that it is “Important to build on the foundations,” so making improvements on the lead up games is vital if they want to return from Aukland victorious. Although it would take some doing to beat the All Blacks, it is certainly possible if the names in the squad live up to their reputation and find their stride before they step out at Eden Park a week on Saturday.
Here is Gatland’s side to face the New Zealand Maori’s:
15. Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)
12. Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors)
11. George North (Northampton Saints)
10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster)
9. Conor Murray (Munster)
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
2. Jamie George (Saracens)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens)
5. George Kruis (Saracens)
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain, Munster)
7. Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby)
16. Ken Owens (Scarlets)
17. Jack McGrath (Leinster)
18. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)
19. Iain Henderson (Ulster)
20. Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues)
21. Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester Rugby)
22. Owen Farrell (Saracens)
23. Elliot Daly (Wasps)