NZ Provincial Barbarians excited for Lions test

New Zealand Provincial Barbarians coach Clayton McMillan is urging his players to play with freedom and enjoy the occasion against the British & Irish Lions on Saturday. [more]

NZ Provincial Barbarians excited for Lions test

The former Bay of Plenty No 8 will lead the squad – which includes Bryn Gatland, son of Lions head coach Warren – in the first match of the Lions ten-game Tour.

Sam Warburton will captain the side as part of an all-Welsh back row in front of what is expected to a 20,000 sell out at Toll Stadium in Whangarei.

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“I’ll tell them to enjoy the moment,” McMillan said. “I’ll tell them it’s an occasion that will throw up future stars and their challenge is to be one of those.

“It’s a game with nothing riding on it for us, so we have to have a crack; to try things out of the box without fear of persecution later.

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“We have to give the Lions a good old-fashioned welcome to New Zealand, a bit of a ‘tickle-up’, because it’s only going to get bigger, badder, faster and more organised for them after us.”

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The NZ Provincial Barbarians have had a week together to prepare for the Lions, who completed two weeks of training in the UK before arriving in New Zealand.

But McMillan is confident the squad, a mix of semi-pros and professionals, have come together well and have all bought into the Barbarians methods which he has tried to promote.

“We’re going to keep things simple, have a crack, and stay true to the Barbarians style. We don’t want to play a game that’s comfortable for the Lions,” he added.

“We want to get the crowd excited and within our camp we feel we’re in with a runner’s chance. Provincial sides have beaten the Lions in the past.

“We recognise it’s going to be a hard game but we have plenty to play for and the boys can’t wait to get out there.”

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