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NZ Provincial Barbarians excited for Lions test

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.

“We have to give the Lions a good old-fashioned welcome to New Zealand”

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.

“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.”

Click here for all the best images from training at QBE Stadium

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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