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Best, Henderson And Sexton To Start For Lions In Tour Opener

Best, Henderson And Sexton To Start For Lions In Tour Opener

The British & Irish Lions team to play their opening 2017 tour match against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm local time/8.35am Irish time) was announced today in Auckland.  

The starting XV contains six 2013 Lions, including Jonathan Sexton and Rory Best whose Ireland colleague Iain Henderson will make his debut in the second row. Tadhg Furlong and Jared Payne are on bench duty, standing by for their first Lions appearances, with the side captained by Wales’ Sam Warburton.
Commenting on his first team selection, head coach Warren Gatland said: “We are all hugely excited about the first game on tour, it’s a great opportunity for the starting XV and the whole matchday squad to lay down a marker and get the tour off to a good start.
“We have named a side that showcases a strong combination of experience and youth and we are really looking forward to Saturday.

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“We are lucky to have some real leaders in the squad and to be able to select them for this match in the likes of Rory Best, Alun Wyn Jones and Greig Laidlaw. I’m looking forward to seeing what Greig can do alongside Johnny Sexton who both are experienced half-backs. It is also great to have Sam starting in the first game of the tour, something he didn’t do in 2013 and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this weekend.

“The balance of the squad is really good, we have selected the majority of players who were together for the training weeks in Wales and Ireland and they have worked together and prepared well for a number of weeks. It is important these guys get a run early and lay down a marker for others to follow.

“We’ve picked the team for Saturday but it is still the plan to try and give the whole squad a start in the next two matches. It is important the players get that opportunity, because if they go well and the team goes well, they put themselves in the shop window for a Test start.”

Saturday’s opening tour clash will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 1 HD, while Michael Corcoran will helm the live match coverage on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra/LW and DAB on the RTÉ Radio Player, RTÉ.ie, UPC Channel 940 and on Saorview.

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS Team & Replacements (v New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour, Toll Stadium, Whangarei, New Zealand, Saturday, June 3, kick-off 7.35pm local time/8.35am Irish time):

15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland) #783
14. Anthony Watson (Bath/England)
13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath/England)
12. Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors/England)
11. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland)
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/Ireland) #791
Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester/Scotland)
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins/England)
2. Rory Best (Ulster/Ireland) #793
3. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins/England)
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales) #761
5. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Ireland)
Ross Moriarty (Gloucester/Wales)
7. Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues/Wales) (capt) #800
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath/Wales) #779


16. Jamie George (Saracens/England)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens/England) #787
18. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Ireland)
19. George Kruis (Saracens/England)
20. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys/Wales) #786
21. Rhys Webb (Ospreys/Wales)
22. Owen Farrell (Saracens/England) #780
23. Jared Payne (Ulster/Ireland)

# Denotes Lions number