Warburton returns in do or die Test for the Lions



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    Sam Warburton returns to captain the British and Irish Lions, in the second match of the series against New Zealand, this Saturday at 8.30 am.

    Warburton replaces Peter O’Mahony, who drops out of the Test squad entirely.

    Warburton is joined in the back row by Taulupe Faletau and Sean O’Brien, with CJ Stander taking a spot on the bench. Stander played well in the Lions mid-week draw against the Hurricanes, with Lions coach Warren Gatland believing that Stander offers more options as a ball-carrier than O’Mahony.

    It’s quite a come down for O’Mahony, who goes from captaining the team to dropping out of the 23 entirely. While O’Mahony didn’t have his usual dynamic performance in last week’s Test, Warburton hasn’t reached his usual heights either on tour.

    Mario Itoje joins Alun Wyn-Jones in the second row, with Courtney Lawes on the bench. George Kruis is dropped from the Test squad. Jones keeps his place though the pace of the game seemed beyond him at times in last week’s Test.

    Iain Henderson played very well in the Hurricanes game, but his yellow card in that match seems to have counted against him. Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Tadhg Furlong retain their places from last week in the front row, with Ken Owens, Kyle Sinkler and Jack McGrath on the bench.

    George played well last week, while Vunipola and Furlong didn’t have their usual affect on the game.

    Jonny Sexton starts at out-half, joined by his Ireland colleague, Conor Murray at scrum-half. Owen Farrell moves to centre, with Ben Te’o dropping to the bench. The Sexton-Farrell combination is one that has been talked about since day one for the Lions. The two played together in last week’s Test but were unable to have much of an effect on the outcome of the game.

    Te’o is unlucky to lose his place as he did a great job of keeping Sonny Bill Wiliams under wraps in last week’s Test. Farrell has a very tough job of containing Williams, who can be one of the most destructive runners in the game.

    Jonathan Davies retains his place at centre, as do the back three of Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson and Jim Williams. Davies and Williams played very well against the All Blacks last Saturday, while Watson and Daly had good games but were caught out in defence on occasion, and failed to complete try-scoring opportunities.

    Jack Nowell is picked on the bench, ahead of Tommy Seymour, who scored two tries in the draw against the Hurricanes. Leigh Halfpenny would have been an option, if only for his goal-kicking. George North and Robbie Henshaw have been ruled out of the rest of the tour after getting injured in the Hurricanes clash. It’s unlucky for both players but neither had lived up to their pre-tour billing.

    It’s do or die for the British and Irish Lions. If they win this Test, they still have a chance to win the series. Lose and they’re simply playing for pride and to avoid the ignominy of being whitewashed. They will need to tighten up their defensive game, and be more clinical in their attack.

    Codie Taylor All Blacks New Zealand Rugby Union 2017

    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    It’s also crunch time for Warren Gatland. The coach has been receiving a lot of flak from all sides, with it increasing after the draw against the Hurricanes. The Lions were leading, 23-7 at half-time and 31-17, ten minutes before the end. Then, Henderson was yellow carded and the Hurricanes scored two converted tries in his absence and the game finished 31-all.

    Gatland refused to use any of the substitutes he had called out, claiming that to do so would ‘devalue the jersey even further’, which meant that the Lions players had to remain on the pitch for the full 80 minutes of the game.

    In the modern game it is important to be able to call on all 23 players. Not using those players was disrespectful to them and shows a lack of faith in his own judgement. If he wasn’t going to use them he shouldn’t have called them out in the first place.

    Gatland has said a lot about the importance of the Test series, and every decision he’s made has been based on that. Now, he has to deliver.

    The All Blacks have said that they expect a backlash from the Lions but will be prepared. They have made three changes to the team that beat the Lions, 30-15, last week. Two changes are injury related, while one is positional.

    Ben Smith, was injured in that Test, so Israel Dagg moves from wing, where he played last week, to fullback. Waisake Naholo comes on to the wing. Naholo helped the Highlanders to a 23-22 win over the Lions. He will want to repeat his great form for that game.

    Codie Taylor, who played in the Hurricanes draw against the Lions on Tuesday, replaces the injured Ryan Crotty at centre.

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    The Crowd Says (74)

    • Roar Rookie

      June 30th 2017 @ 5:40am
      Alex James said | June 30th 2017 @ 5:40am | ! Report

      Gatland is having a bit of a shocker here. I just don’t see why AWJ starts ahead of Lawes. The front row looked looked more like it could use a change than the back row. Ben Te’o did his job well last week.
      I know these changes represent a change in game plan but it is easy to see why people believe he favoursthe welsh players. SW is going to have to have one of the best games of his career.
      I can’t see it happening and I worry that the ABs will just see the new 10/12 channel as even more inviting for the likes of SBW, kR and BR.
      I still can’t see anything other than 3-0 to ABs in the series. It’s not like they’ll field a weaker side next week and risk losing their record at Eden park.

      • June 30th 2017 @ 7:45pm
        Noodles said | June 30th 2017 @ 7:45pm | ! Report

        I think the clue is in Warburton. Gatland may have picked a pack to better handle the breakdown contest with least drain on the defensive numbers. At the same time he has upped the ante in the backs by losing a strong defender in order to have two playmakers off his 9.
        Whatever he did would be risky. Looks to me that he opted for the positive choices.

    • June 30th 2017 @ 5:42am
      Uncle Eric said | June 30th 2017 @ 5:42am | ! Report

      ‘Codie Taylor, who played in the Hurricanes draw against the Lions on Tuesday, replaces the injured Ryan Crotty at centre’. Codie is versatile, but it appears that Anton Lienert-Brown is replacing Ryan Crotty. Some surprising decisions in the Lions side though. Alun Wynn-Jones keeps his place, Ben Te’o to the bench, Farrell to 12? Never mind SBW, Laumape must be licking his lips already.

      • June 30th 2017 @ 11:09am
        Jibba Jabba said | June 30th 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        Not to mention Jim Williams playing fullback for the Lions, thought he was a lock for the Tahs and retired many moons ago ??? Declan must been enjoying his trip me thinks…

    • Roar Rookie

      June 30th 2017 @ 5:54am
      atlas said | June 30th 2017 @ 5:54am | ! Report

      “Codie Taylor, who played in the Hurricanes draw against the Lions on Tuesday, replaces the injured Ryan Crotty at centre.”

      Codie Taylor, Crusaders, replacing Crotty at centre … is Ngani Laumape in as hooker?
      Taylor may appear on the wing, again, but mostly in the front row I expect

      • June 30th 2017 @ 6:27am
        zer0 said | June 30th 2017 @ 6:27am | ! Report

        Breaking news from Reuters: “In a radical move to make the upcoming second test of the British & Irish Lions series more of a contest, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has this morning announced that his side will play in reverse order. That is, Israel Dagg will pack down at loosehead with Rieko Ioane at hooker and Anton Leinert-Brown at tighthead, and so on in that fashion.

        This shakeup will see an experimental back three of Joe Moody at fullback with Codie Taylor and Brodie Retallick on the wings. Given 6’8 left winger Retallick’s significant height advantage over his 6’2 opposite, it is anticipated that first five Jerome Kaino will be putting in many cross-field kicks to take full advantage of this discrepancy.”

        Please note that this breaking news story may not be entirely accurate. Conditions apply. Results may vary.

        • June 30th 2017 @ 6:42am
          Adsa said | June 30th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

          I would still back the Darkness by 5 with the change in positions

        • June 30th 2017 @ 7:30am
          Declan murphy said | June 30th 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

          Very sorry about the mixup.

          • June 30th 2017 @ 9:37am
            Buk said | June 30th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

            Glad I am not the only one who makes those sort of mistakes 🙂

        • June 30th 2017 @ 11:37am
          mzilikazi said | June 30th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

          Did this news come from a fella called T Rump……the FN man ?

        • Roar Rookie

          June 30th 2017 @ 6:21pm
          piru said | June 30th 2017 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

          Poor old Kieran gets the same job

        • Roar Guru

          June 30th 2017 @ 8:10pm
          Kashmir Pete said | June 30th 2017 @ 8:10pm | ! Report

          Breaking news from Reuters: “In a radical move to make the upcoming second test of the British & Irish Lions series more of a contest, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has this morning announced that his side will play in reverse order. That is, Israel Dagg will pack down at loosehead with Rieko Ioane at hooker and Anton Leinert-Brown at tighthead, and so on in that fashion.

          to be fair, this should apply to all tests for coming Rugby Championships!

      • June 30th 2017 @ 8:33am
        mzilikazi said | June 30th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        Laumape is a centre

    • Roar Guru

      June 30th 2017 @ 6:25am
      Carlos the Argie said | June 30th 2017 @ 6:25am | ! Report

      Hey, give him a break about Codie Taylor. He is so bamboozled by the Gatland selections that he missed the Taylor versus ALB-Laumape selections.

      Anyway, I am also quite confused by Gatland. I am not sure I can read what he is trying to do. I don’t think the BIL back three are so good defensively against an air bombardment. Maybe others with more knowledge of NH rugby can tell me. I also think that the decisions around the forwards appear strange.

      Maybe Gats has something up his sleeve, but I think he just got overcome with pressure.

      There is no doubt in my mind that Hansen & Co will make the ABs play differently this weekend, especially with the pro weather forecast.

      • June 30th 2017 @ 8:00am
        Fionn said | June 30th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        Think you’re on the money, mate.

      • June 30th 2017 @ 7:00pm
        Colin N said | June 30th 2017 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

        Anthony Watson and Liam Williams are generally solid under the high ball, but Elliot Daly has only played on the wing for his country and now the Lions, although he did take that cross-field kick well last week.

        I’m more worried about the midfield defence. The Sexton-Farrell partnership didn’t work last week so I’m not sure what’s convinced him it’s going to change.

    • June 30th 2017 @ 6:47am
      Hugo said | June 30th 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      The Cody Taylor move isn’t the biggest news, it’s that Retallick has discovered a British grandmother and has been rushed into the Lions side. Then it was found that Retallick’s grandmother was a Scot so he’s been dropped from the matchday 23 and will watch from the stands..

      • June 30th 2017 @ 2:01pm
        jameswm said | June 30th 2017 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

        If only she was Welsh.

      • Roar Guru

        June 30th 2017 @ 8:13pm
        Kashmir Pete said | June 30th 2017 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

        these comments on article all too much – am gonna have a heart attack from laughin

    • June 30th 2017 @ 7:00am
      bigbaz said | June 30th 2017 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      Early start Declan, I’ll be lucky to be out of bed.

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