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Sexton Starts For Lions, O’Mahony Misses Out

Sexton Starts For Lions, O’Mahony Misses Out

Welsh flanker Sam Warburton will captain the British & Irish Lions against New Zealand in the second Test at Westpac Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm local time/8.35am Irish time).

British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has decided to bring in Sam Warburton for Peter O’Mahony in a starting line-up showing three personnel changes to the side that lost the opening Test of the series 30-15 in Auckland.

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Maro Itoje comes into the second row for his Saracens club-mate George Kruis, while Leinster and Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton comes in at out-half and Owen Farrell shifts to inside centre instead of Ben Te’o.

Sexton will form an all-Irish half-back pairing with Conor Murray, while their international colleagues Tadhg Furlong, who remains the starting tighthead, Jack McGrath and CJ Stander are also part of the matchday 23.

The changes to the replacements bench see Courtney Lawes, Jack Nowell and Stander all coming into the squad after impressing against the Hurricanes on Tuesday.

Gatland commented: “We saw Maro’s impact in the first Test and he will bring an edge and a physicality, as will Sam Warburton in terms of pressure on the ball. It’s tough on Peter O’Mahony who has done a brilliant job for us.

“We had to look at the bench and we felt that CJ Stander’s ball-carrying and defence was the right choice for the bench. You have to make the tough calls and pick what is the right team and the right combinations for a Test match.

“In terms of the backs we have gone with the Sexton-Farrell combination. Both have played well and it gives us that attacking option in the 10-12 channel. We created opportunities in the first Test and there were a few that we didn’t finish.

“There were lots of positives from the first Test but we were disappointed that we put ourselves in a position to put the All Blacks under pressure and to get back into the game and we let it slip.

“This is a big chance for these players to go out and show what they are capable of on Saturday night. For the players retained from the first Test it’s an opportunity for them to step up and to show an improvement because individually they were disappointed and you have another group coming in who are also desperate to seize their chance.”

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS Team & Replacements (v New Zealand, 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour Second Test, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand, Saturday, July 1, kick-off 7.35pm local time/8.35am Irish time):

15. Liam Williams (Scarlets/Wales) #833
14. Anthony Watson (Bath/England) #816
13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets/Wales) #778
12. Owen Farrell (Saracens/England) #780
11. Elliot Daly (Wasps/England) #822
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/Ireland) #791
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland) #790
Mako Vunipola (Saracens/England) #787
2. Jamie George (Saracens/England) #819
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Ireland) #818
Maro Itoje (Saracens/England) #825
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales) #761
6. Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues/Wales) (capt) #800
7. Sean O’Brien (Leinster/Ireland) #796
Taulupe Faletau (Bath/Wales) #779


16. Ken Owens (Scarlets/Wales) #829
17. Jack McGrath (Leinster/Ireland) #827
Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins/England) #814
19. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints/England) #826
20. CJ Stander (Munster/Ireland) #831
21. Rhys Webb (Ospreys/Wales) #820
22. Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors/England) #815
23. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs/England) #828