Irish players named in first Lions team

Sevu Reece has been named to start on the wing for the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians side that will face the British and Irish Lions this Saturday.

The Welsh backrower, the tour captain, is one of the six members of the 2013 Lions squad which beat Australia to be named by coach Warren Gatland in the starting lineup for the first of 10 matches in New Zealand.

The back three looks unsafe, with the creativity of Stuart Hogg, the pace of Anthony Watson and the work-rate of Tommy Seymour a good balance, while Te'o and Jonathan Joseph in the centres will be familiar with one another from their time with England.

"I'm really looking forward to it, but I'm nervous as well".

But it was the style of rugby on show that Fitzpatrick believes will have alerted the world champions to ready themselves for battle ahead of the three-Test series, which gets under way on June 24.

The integrated campaign features tour captain Sam Warburton, Rory Best and Greig Laidlaw in both stills and film, with activation in-store and across digital and social media channels.

An estimated 20,000 supporters are expected to travel to New Zealand for the 2017 British and Irish Lions Tour which takes place during June and July.

The Portlaoise native, who is rooted in Laois sport, is one of a handful of people who are in with a chance to win the AIG all-expenses paid trip to New Zealand.

"These games are important to win, you get a good feeling, but we've got to realise that the next three, four weeks are big learning weeks for us".

"It's what makes rugby special and I'm sure there's a few southern hemisphere teams that would want it to maintain as well".

Payne, who was ruled out of Ireland's deciding summer series Test against South Africa past year was named on the bench for the game in Whangarei on Saturday, but Warren Gatland will hope he will prove his fitness for the remaining nine games. "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.

"It was good for me to be in the camp from the start and I really tried to add value to the group where I can".

"I was constantly panicking four years ago about when I was going to get a game and when I was going to pull through".

Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Tadhg Furlong, George Kruis, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb, Owen Farrell and Jared Payne make up the reserves.

  • Julie Sanders