Crusaders field strong pack against Lions


"All credit to the Blues, they took their chances, I think we're going to have to tidy up slightly on our discipline and be a little bit more clinical".

He held to that course Thursday in selecting his squad to take on a Crusaders team which is unbeaten in 14 Super Rugby matches this season and will be the toughest opponent the Lions will have faced on the tour to date.

Tour skipper Sam Warburton misses out with an ankle problem, while Ross Moriarty has a back spasm and Dan Biggar is undergoing return-to-play protocols after a head injury.

Ireland's openside flanker Sean O'Brien has been given the nod for the number seven jersey and will make his first appearance of the tour, with compatriot Peter O'Mahony named at blindside flanker.

Gatland has picked a strong but still experimental lineup, though, to meet a Crusaders team which contains nine All Blacks.

It turned out it was a test the Lions weren't prepared for as they ended up on the losing side with Williams' controversial try proving crucial. That's an area we will address over the next few days.

Hansen didn't have too much time for Gatland's comments.

Alun Wyn Jones captains the side, with Gatland once again changing all of his XV from the Auckland outing.

"For us, it was an improvement [in performance compared to the victory over the Provincial Barbarians] and I think we'll see more on Saturday as well".

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"Last night's result against the Blues was disappointing, and we know we can't afford to give away so many penalties", Gatland said.

Gatland's comment after the loss to the Blues that Super Rugby teams are of similar strength to the All Blacks has led to widespread criticism.

It was, according to Lions hooker Jamie George, who has the honour of starting this match before starting a test for England, the assertion from assistant coach and former England lock Steve Borthwick that the tourists' pack have to get to world class standard in order to beat the All Blacks.

It proved to be a hard test against the Super Rugby side, with the hosts taking the lead through a Rieko Ioane try on seven minutes.

The British and Irish Lions put in a better performance but got beaten by The Blues.

"We're excited by the uniqueness that comes with playing a Lions Series as it only comes around every 12 years".

CRUSADERS: Israel Dagg; Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, George Bridge; Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock (capt), Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua.

Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Tim Bateman.

Six of the eight All Blacks starting for the Crusaders are in the forward pack.