Lions roll out completely new starting XV for Blues clash

by AAP

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has changed all 15 of his starting side for their second tour match of New Zealand, with Wales hooker Ken Owens set to captain the team against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland on Wednesday.

Wholesale changes were expected after the Lions scraped a 13-7 win over the Provincial Barbarians and just three players involved in that match have been included in the squad to face the Blues.

Winger Elliot Daly, scrumhalf Rhys Webb and flanker Justin Tipuric all came off the bench against the Barbarians but will start against the Super Rugby side.Warren Gatland will be looking for an improved performance tomorrow night. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile the Lions came in for stinging criticism for their performance in Whangarei, Gatland said in a statement that it had always been their intention to give players the chance to impress before their three Tests against the All Blacks.

"We have stated from the off that we want to give every player a start in the first three games and Wednesday is an opportunity for this set of players to show what they can do in a Lions jersey," he said.

"It was good to get the win under our belts last weekend. We have a few 'work ons' from last weekend and we know we need to be more clinical.

"We created some good opportunities against the Barbarians but didn't see them through and that is something we want to improve on."

England lock Maro Itoje, who has been touted as a future great of the game, gets his first run-out in New Zealand and partners compatriot Courtney Lawes in a mobile and bruising middle row against the Blues.

Wales scrumhalf Webb and flyhalf Dan Biggar also get an opportunity to stake a claim for the inside-back combination for the first Test against the world champions on June 24.

Gatland said playing in front of a large crowd, perhaps exceeding 40,000 on Wednesday, would help his side adjust to the surroundings at Eden Park, which will host the first and third Tests.

The Blues named their team on Monday, with Sonny Bill Williams under a cloud.


Lions to face Blues

1. Jack McGrath

2. Ken Owens ©

3. Dan Cole

4. Maro Itoje

5. Courtney Law

6. James Haskell

7. Justin Tipuric

8. CJ Stander

9. Rhys Webb

10. Dan Biggar

11. Elliot Daly

12. Robbie Henshaw

13. Jared Payne

14. Jack Nowell

15. Leigh Halfpenny


16. Rory Best

17. Joe Marler

18. Kyle Sinckler

19. Iain Henderson

20. Peter O'Mahony

21. Greig Laidlaw

22. Jonny Sexton

23. Liam Williams