British and Irish Lions: Gatland praise for Irish duo Payne and Henshaw

Warren Gatland has demanded his British & Irish Lions players believe in their qualities and express themselves amid ongoing comments of his coaching style.

Ken Owens has been selected to captain the British and Irish Lions in their second tour outing against Super Rugby outfit the Blues at Eden Park on Wednesday (7 June).

The British and Irish Lions were officially welcomed to New Zealand on Sunday but their thoughts were quickly dragged back to Europe after news of the deadly terror attack in London filtered through.

If the Lions take any of the franchises for granted, they will be cut to pieces, which makes for the ideal practice in defense.

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Replacements: R Best (Ulster, Ireland), J Marler (Harlequins, England), K Sinckler (Harlequins, England), I Henderson (Ulster, Ireland), P O'Mahony (Munster, Ireland), G Laidlaw (Gloucester, Scotland), J Sexton (Leinster, Ireland), L Williams (Scarlets, Wales).

"But he's played some pretty good rugby in the last 18 months, and he's one of the standout performers in northern hemisphere rugby anyway".

Lions coach Warren Gatland said after the game against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians that several members of his side were still dealing with jet lag, and lacked cohesion due to a disrupted buildup before they left Britain.

Wales pair Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb will fill the crucial halves roles, with Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton, an unimpressive starter in Whangarei, on the bench. The boys in the stand were itching to get their chance and they are really excited about Wednesday.

Lions: 15-Leigh Halfpenny, 14-Jack Nowell, 13-Jared Payne, 12-Robbie Henshaw, 11-Elliot Daly, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Rhys Webb, 8-CJ Stander, 7-Justin Tipuric, 6-James Haskell, 5-Courtney Lawes, 4-Maro Itoje, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Ken Owens (captain), 1-Jack McGrath.

"We gave away a few too many penalties at the end and let them back into a bit of territory", Warburton added.

"As I say, we don't know the details but we're very anxious to make that known back home".

Boss Gatland insisted he will stick to his plan of fielding an entirely different starting XV at Eden Park.

"So we didn't play so well against the Barbarians on Saturday, and it gives us an opportunity to go out against the Blues and go and be positive".

In Saint Etienne Team Sky lined up at the front of the peloton for a minute's silence on the start line of the Criterium du Dauphine, where Chris Froome is this week bidding for a record fourth overall victory as he tests his form for the Tour de France. "We are hoping for some good weather and are expecting a tough, fast and open game of rugby".

  • Zachary Reyes