Friday, 17 November, 2017

Rory Best to captain Lions against the Chiefs

George Kruis caught the eye against the Maori All Blacks George Kruis caught the eye against the Maori All Blacks
Lucia Summers | 22 June, 2017, 07:41

Former New Zealand captain Colin Meads believes the British and Irish Lions' odds of winning the first Test have shortened dramatically after their emphatic 32-10 win over the Maori All Blacks on Saturday.

"(Lions coach Warren) Gatland announced it in the team room, and forced me to get up and say a few words", the 34-year-old Best told reporters.

The England global picked up a quad strain in training before the Lions' clash with the Maori All Blacks on Saturday and there had been great fear that he would miss out on the first Test.

Omissions from the backline include Ben Te'o, Jonathan Joseph, George North, Leigh Halfpenny and halves Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray.

"I looked back at 2013 (in Australia) and between the first and third tests we made nine different selections".

"We play this game on Tuesday, hopefully we'll get the result we're after and show improvement again".

"Twelve months ago when we were here with Wales I said, "Whatever you do, don't take a dummy from Stephen Donald", and the first thing he did was throw a dummy and score".

The Lions head coach wants his six additions to sit on the bench for the midweek matches against the Chiefs and the Hurricanes, to keep the Test-match 23 fresh for the All Blacks.

Midfielder Charlie Ngatai, who spoke of his pleasure of getting through 80 minutes at the Rotorua International Stadium after his recent concussion issues, is missing too, but loose forward Liam Messam has been named on the bench and will get his chance to go one better against Gatland's mid-weekers.

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British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland reckons the world champion All Blacks are anxious ahead of next week's first Test.

"The Lions will be ready and up for it and we're just going to have to work out what we've got to do to negate it", said Lienert-Brown.

"I've always been confident about Owen being fit for the weekend".

'It's a great opportunity for Elliot and I think he's done pretty well, ' said Gatland.

"There's no doubt there's some pressure on him (Warburton) because certain players and certain combinations have gone well".

So the onus is on Williams, Daly and Nowell to impress against the Chiefs.

The Lions face the Chiefs on Tuesday (20 June) but no Test starters are likely to feature in that outing, so talk has already turned to Gatland's starting XV to take on New Zealand.

'We are going to have some quite lengthy debates in terms of finalising that back three.

Those two victories and performances have set up a fascinating three-match series between the reigning world champions and a Lions side seeking to win back-to-back series' for the first time since 1971 and 1974. "It makes it hard to complete attacking opportunities because there is so much happening off the ball in terms of holding players or subtly holding players".

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