Crusaders game holds huge implications for Lions
- Author: Julie Sanders Jun 15, 2017,
Jun 15, 2017, 21:36
Irish duo Peter O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien are named in the back row alongside Taulupe Faletau, while England's Owen Farrell makes his first start of the tour at fly-half next to likely Test partner Conor Murray.
Now's not the time for Warren Gatland to hold his team back, if indeed they are holding back.
In a silver lining for Gatland, a calf injury to Kiwi-born centre Jared Payne isn't considered serious, while first-five Dan Biggar has suffered a minor concussion.
Gatland said: "The aim was always to start everyone in the first three matches and this selection ensures that we achieve this".
When the pressure goes on the British and Irish Lions they revert to type - and it's not a pretty sight.
"Our squad is working hard and we are seeing improvement in their performances both at training and in the games", Gatland said.
Writing in The Telegraph, one of the United Kingdom's leading broadsheets, Greenwood said the players have to take the majority of the responsibility as they prepare to face Super Rugby leaders the Crusaders on Saturday.
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.
While the Lions demonstrated a stiff defence against the Blues at Eden Park on Wednesday, they must capitalise on their scoring opportunities, create more with the ball in hand, and not rely exclusively on their kicking game to create pressure.
"He's got offloading ability, good footwork, he's explosive over a short space". "We were coming here to get another victory but unfortunately we got a defeat".
Head coach Scott Robertson said: "This is a huge and exciting challenge for us". We are facing some of the best rugby players in the world, but we have some of the world's best in this team too, so it will be a fantastic clash. Replacements: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Ala'alatoa, Quinten Strange, Jed Brown, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Tim Bateman.
Jack McGrath, CJ Stander and Johnny Sexton make the replacements bench.
"The Crusaders are playing with a lot of confidence".
Sonny Bill Williams produced a moment of magic to allow the onrushing Ihaia West to race home for the winning try as Auckland Blues overcame the British and Irish Lions 22-16 at Eden Park.
Robertson predicted Ireland's Connor Murray and Englishman Owen Farrell would be in the Lions halves hours before it was named.