Teo to face Provincial Barbarians

by AFP

The British and Irish Lions have thrown captain Sam Warburton straight into the fray as they look to make a winning start to their tour of New Zealand.

Warburton, who is returning from a knee injury that sidelined him in April, will lead a powerful line-up against a Provincial Barbarians XV in Whangarei on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Welsh flanker will start alongside three national captains - Wales' Alun Wyn Jones, Ireland's Rory Best and Scotland's Greig Laidlaw.

Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton will also bring a wealth of experience as the Lions face a Barbarians team widely regarded as their weakest opponent on the 10-match tour.

Coach Warren Gatland said he was looking at his veterans to provide leadership in a team that combined youth and experience.

Plenty of fans greeted the Lions on their arrival to New Zealand. Photo: Getty ImagesGatland said he was "excited and bit apprehensive" about the much-anticipated tour kicking off in the first visit since 2005 by the composite team of players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

"It's a great opportunity to lay down a marker in terms of hopefully getting the tour off to a good start," said the New Zealander, who won 17 caps for the All Blacks.

The starting XV includes five players from England, four from Wales and three each from Ireland and Scotland.

Gatland said he was looking forward to seeing Sexton and Laidlaw combine in the backline and was pleased to have Warburton return for the opening match.

"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," he said.

Gatland said he hoped to give the majority of his 41-man squad a run in the opening two matches, the second of which is against the Auckland Blues next Wednesday.

Gatland's son Bryn, 22, has been named to start at flyhalf for the Barbarians and could also turn out for the Blues next week.

Former hooker Gatland, who coached the Lions to a Test series win over Australia in 2013, said his son's appearance was "awesome" and the pair enjoyed some banter ahead of the Barbarians match.

"I said 'perhaps you could give me all your calls and moves' and he said 'as long as you let me run through a big hole in the first few minutes'," Gatland told reporters after arriving Wednesday.

The Lions take on the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on Saturday, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS.


Lions to take on the Provincial Barbarians

1. Joe Marler  

2. Rory Best

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Alun Wyn Jones

5. Iain Henderson

6. Ross Moriarty

7. Sam Warburton (c)

8. Taulup Faletau

9. Greig Laidlaw

10. Johnny Sexton

11. Tommy Semour

12. Ben Teo

13. Jonathan Joseph

14. Anthony Watson

15. Stuart Hogg


16. Jamie George

17. Mako Vunipola

18. Tadhg Furlong

19. George Kruis

20. Justin Tipuric

21. Rhys Webb

22. Owen Farrell

23. Jared Payne

Provincial Barbarians to take on the Lions

1. Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty)

2. Sam Anderson-Heather (Otago)

3. Oliver Jager (Canterbury)

4. Josh Goodhue (Northland)

5. Keepa Mewett (Bay of Plenty)

6. James Tucker (Waikato)

7. Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki)

8. Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury)

9. Jack Stratton (Canterbury)

10. Bryn Gatland (North Harbour)

11. Sevu Reece (Waikato)

12. Dwayne Sweeney (Waikato)

13. Inga Finau (Canterbury)

14. Sam Vaka (Counties Manukau)

15. Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau)


16. Andrew Makalio (Tasman)

17. Tolu Fahamokioa (Wellington)

18. Marcel Renata (Auckland)

19. Matt Matich (Northland)

20. Peter Rowe (Wanganui)

21. Richard Judd (Bay of Plenty)

22. Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay)

23. Junior Ngaluafe (Southland)