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05th Jul 2017

Lions push out their chest with ballsy team selection to face All Blacks

Now or never

Conan Doherty

A show of strength, and confidence, from Lions coach Warren Gatland.

The Lions will go into this weekend’s deciding Test match with New Zealand with the exact same squad of 23 players that did were victorious in Wellington. That means five Irish players are in the starting XV.

The front row remains Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Tadhg Furlong with Maro Itoje accompanying Alun Wyn Jones in the second row. Many had called for Courtney Lawes and Jack McGrath to replace Jones and Vunipola but Gatland is not having it.

Gatland has not meddled with his winning back row from last week, with captain Sam Warburton playing alongside Sean O’Brien and Toby Faletau.

The half backs remain the same, with Ireland’s Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton continuing on from the Second Test victory. Owen Farrell and Jonathan Davies are in midfield while Elliott Daly and Anthony Watson continue on the wings.

Liam Williams was an injury doubt after missing Wednesday training but he has been passed fit to play fullback.

New Zealand have not lost back-to-back Tests at home since South Africa did the double over them in 1998.

Steve Hansen will have his team full charged and ready to blitz the tourists from the get-go at Eden Park. Following last weekend’s Lions victory at The Cake Tin, the AB’s will be taking on an altogether different beast.

The Third Test takes place at Eden Park, Auckland from 8:35am [GMT] on Saturday.


15. Liam Williams
14. Anthony Watson
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Owen Farrell
11. Elliott Daly
10. Jonathan Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Maro Itoje
5. Alun Wyn Jones
6. Sam Warburton (capt)
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Toby Faletau

Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander, Rhys Webb, Ben Te’o, Jack Nowell.