In the Red Corner

So now we know the gladiators who will take to the Eden Park arena on Saturday morning.

Warren Gatland has, unexpectedly stuck to the same 23 that were successful in Wellington. Unexpectedly because he is fond of shaking things up and, as we all know, it wasn’t perfect for much of the second test second half!

It is a sign that he trusts them to do the job and to maybe propel themselves into rugby immortality and himself in contention to succeed Steve Hansen.

I think it is tough on some of the potential candidates who will leave New Zealand not having gained a test jersey – Iain Henderson and Justin Tipuric in particular. But if the Lions do win then no one will care – and Justin and Iain will still be part of history.

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British and Irish Lions: L Williams (Wales); A Watson (England), J Davies (Wales), O Farrell (England), E Daly (England); J Sexton (Ireland), C Murray (Ireland); M Vunipola (England), J George (England), T Furlong (Ireland), M Itoje (England), A W Jones (Wales), S Warburton (Wales, capt), S O’Brien (Ireland), T Faletau (Wales).

Replacements: K Owens (Wales), J McGrath (Ireland), K Sinckler (England), C Lawes (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), R Webb (Wales), B Te’o (England), J Nowell (England).

In contrast Steve Hansen has rolled the dice a bit – bringing back Julian Savea, keeping Ngani Laumape and giving Jordie Barrett his first start.

The youngest of the three brothers in the match day squad is a talented player and has been a star for the Hurricanes this year in Super Rugby.

However, this is the deciding test in the white hot atmosphere of Eden Park in front of 20,000+ red shirted fans. He will be targeted by the Lions kickers and we’ll see if he is as good under pressure as his fly-half brother..

The match day 23 for the Test (with Test caps in brackets) is:

  1. Joe Moody (27)
    2. Codie Taylor (18)
    3. Owen Franks (93)
    4. Brodie Retallick (63)
    5. Samuel Whitelock (87)
    6. Jerome Kaino (80)
    7. Sam Cane (43)
    8. Kieran Read (99) – Captain
    9. Aaron Smith (61)
    10. Beauden Barrett (52)
    11. Julian Savea (53)
    12. Ngani Laumape (1)
    13. Anton Lienert-Brown (12)
    14. Israel Dagg (64)
    15. Jordie Barrett (1)
  2. Nathan Harris (7)
    17. Wyatt Crockett (61)
    18. Charlie Faumuina (49)
    19. Scott Barrett (7)
    20. Ardie Savea (15)
    21. TJ Perenara (32)
    22. Aaron Cruden (49)
    23. Malakai Fekitoa (23)

The All Blacks have a habit of getting better at the end of a home series – be a shame to break that habit wouldn’t it!?

 

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