Sam Warburton to captain British and Irish Lions in tour opener


Flanker Warburton forms part of an all-Wales loose forward trio for the match on Saturday, while all three Scottish members of the tour party are in the starting side.

He's made six appearances for his club - but now must jump straight into challenging the likes of Jonathan Joseph and Ben Te'o as the Baabaas' No.12.

Lions starting XV: Stuart Hogg; Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Ben Te'o, Tommy Seymour; Johnny Sexton, Greig Laidlaw; Joe Marler, Rory Best, Kyle Sinckler, Alun Wyn Jones, Iain Henderson, Ross Moriarty, Sam Warburton (capt), Taulupe Faletau.

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Because the rugby league seasons now run in tandem in both hemispheres, the traditional tours when the Lions and the Kangaroos each played anything between 30 and 40 matches will never be replicated, but Wood wants to see much more than a three-match Test series amid speculation that Queensland and New South Wales could provide some of the opposition.

"We're well aware that there's a bit of bridge-building to do from 2005", said Gatland, who is a New Zealander himself and earned 17 All Blacks caps from 1988 to 1991.

More than 20,000 fans are expected to accompany the Lions on their 10-match tour which kicks off Saturday against a Provincial Barbarians selection at Whangarei, north of Auckland.

Replacements: J George, M Vunipola (both England), T Furlong (Ireland), G Kruis (England), J Tipuric, R Webb (both Wales), O Farrell (England), J Payne (Ireland).

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If the Lions want to take out the series, they need to win one of two games at Eden Park. "I was the last guy on the tour to play a fixture so it's nice to get a jersey in the kit bag", he said.

"There is some real experience there with Rory Best, Alun Wyn Jones and Johnny Sexton, and Sam as captain", Gatland added. If you've got a squad of 23, yeah it would be brutal but we've got almost two squads of players so guys aren't going to be starting Saturday, starting Wednesday and starting again the next Saturday.

"I guess it would be fair to say that we could be the easiest game on tour, but. the depth in New Zealand is reasonably strong and we're confident that we'll put out a team who can do the job".

"We've picked the team for Saturday but it is still the plan to try and give the whole squad a start in the next two matches".

"There's already a bit of banter about and the players are very aware of the competition in that position, so they'll get a chance, the three of them, to start".

Gatland will also come face to face with his own SON who is in the BaaBaas squad.

Fitzpatrick, capped 92 times by the All Blacks over an 11 year Test career, reflected: "I never thought we were going to lose that, purely in terms of our preparation".