Lions captain Warburton on bench, O'Mahony leads team

New Zealand are unbeaten on the ground since 1994.

O'Mahony was handed leadership duties for Saturday's clash at the All Blacks' fortress of Eden Park despite only skippering Ireland three times, relegating tour captain Sam Warburton to the bench.

"The unexpected selections of Williams and Daly ahead of Leigh Halfpenny and George North point to a recognition by Gatland that his side need to offer more threat in attack", it said.

The Munster player jumped off the bench for the full 80 minutes in Dublin after Jamie Heaslip suffered a back problem, and his relentless showing sealed his Lions tour call-up.

"Yes, we play to a structure as every team plays to a structure but [it's about] having the confidence and ability to bring an offloading game in when it's appropriate and we've been trying to do that, not always effectively, but we think we've seen some development in that. and there were a couple of nice examples on Tuesday night of that coming together".

"It's that Munster kind of aggression around everything we do in training, determination, nearly "follow me lads".

The Lions squad Gatland has assembled is more a team of journeymen, highly adept at their own roles, lacking any real wattage of star power but adept at their chosen style. The rugby world's eyes are watching, and this team of Steve Hansen's love nothing better than to seize these special moments. Puts the result at Eden Park into perspective.

"Ben has played some pretty big matches in his career, in both codes", Rowntree added.

With many players' families - including Murray's - and partners arriving into Auckland in recent days, the Lions have been able to switch off from the pressure of this build-up, comfortable in the belief that they are as well prepared as they could possibly be.

The tourists have won plaudits for their defence in the warm-up matches but New Zealand-born Gatland said that would not be enough at Eden Park, where the All Blacks have not lost for 23 years. "If it hasn't happened, then get a plan so you don't have to worry about it", Hansen said.

"I can't fault the players if we're getting some success by dominating up front".

"It all comes down to the simple things done well". In turn, this makes competition at the breakdown much easier and by carrying out all these points the Lions will try to deny New Zealand progressively quicker breakdown ball that allows their risky runners to make line breaks and players to run aggressive support lines.

O'Mahony missed Ireland's first-ever win over the All Blacks, the stunning 40-29 in Chicago on November 5. The Lions will try to make them move ball against a defensive line which has been quick throughout the Saturday games on tour.

"For me, from a young age in underage sides where Pete captained me, he has been the same".

The set piece pressure and line speed from the men in red goes without saying, and the All Blacks will attempt to counter that by doing the basics well.

The Lions announced their Test intentions with their bullish 12-3 win over the Crusaders before dispatching the Maori 32-10.

  • Julie Sanders