Warren Gatland names Alun Wyn Jones as Lions captain for Crusaders match
- Author: Julie Sanders Jun 13, 2017,
Jun 13, 2017, 11:17
Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones will lead the British and Irish Lions against the Canterbury Crusaders on Saturday with tour captain Sam Warburton not considered as he battles an ankle injury, coach Warren Gatland said.
British and Irish Lions team to face the Crusaders on Saturday: S Hogg (Scotland), G North (Wales), J Davies (Wales), B Te'o (England), L Williams (Wales), O Farrell (England), C Murray (Ireland), M Vunipola (England), J George (England), T Furlong (Ireland), A W Jones (Wales, capt), G Kruis (England), P O'Mahony (Ireland), S O'Brien (Ireland), T Faletau (Wales).
The seven-time Super Rugby champions have played an attractive brand this season on the way to winning 14-from-14 games.
Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Tadhg Furlong will form a powerful front-row unit, with Jones packing down with George Kruis at lock.
Leinster flanker O'Brien will have Ireland team-mate and Munster hard man Peter O'Mahony for company in a back-row that will not lack for industry and grit.
Gatland had said all 41 members of the squad would get an opportunity to play in the opening three games of the tour before he began to decide on combinations for the first test against the All Blacks on June 24.
"The players are going to get one or two chances to make a stance, make an impact before we start thinking about the Test team", he added.
"A moment of magic you do get from New Zealand teams, so I'm happy there's an improvement but disappointed we lost the game obviously".
The Crusaders, Highlanders and the Hurricanes will all unveil challenges ahead of their matches against the Lions, while the Chiefs will perform a haka initially created specifically for them prior to the 2012 Super Rugby final and seen most recently when they played Wales in 2016.
Owen Farrell will start at first-five eighth against the Crusaders on Saturday night.
It's appropriate, then, that their next opponents should be the Crusaders, a side who have for the past eight years been able to lay claim to having the best forwards in Super Rugby but who have come up short every time.
"It's also important that they be physical, to make sure they can compete against New Zealand sides". We're getting used to the patterns on attack and how we want to defend, the set piece I thought was fantastic against the Blues. We know he's going to be a threat in a couple of weeks. "It's going to be tough".
Kieran Read is named as captain despite an injury that may rule him out of the first test, while Dane Coles is also included despite his issues with concussion.
Steve Hansen named an experienced New Zealand squad for those three forthcoming Tests against the Lions earlier on Thursday, with uncapped pair Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett both making the cut. We have to be aware of that, they are playing with a lot of confidence.