Warburton to lead Lions in second Test against All Blacks
Sam Warburton will captain The British & Irish Lions against New Zealand in the second Test at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
“You have to make the tough calls and pick what is the right team and the right combinations for a Test match.”
Warburton replaces Peter O’Mahony in a starting line-up showing three personnel changes from the XV that started the first Test.
Maro Itoje comes into the second row for George Kruis, while Johnny Sexton is at fly-half and Owen Farrell shifts to inside centre instead of Ben Te’o.
There are changes on the replacements’ bench with Courtney Lawes, Jack Nowell and C.J Stander all coming into the squad after impressing against the Hurricanes on Tuesday.
Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “We saw Maro’s impact in the 1st Test and he will bring an edge and a physicality, as will Sam Warburton in terms of pressure on the ball.
“It’s tough on Peter O’Mahony who has done a brilliant job for us. We had to look at the bench and we felt that CJ Stander’s ball carrying and defence was the right choice for the bench. You have to make the tough calls and pick what is the right team and the right combinations for a Test match.”
Gatland added: “In terms of the backs we have gone with the Sexton-Farrell combination. Both have played well and it gives us that attacking option in the 10-12 channel. We created opportunities in the 1st Test and there were a few that we didn’t finish.
“There were lots of positives from the 1st Test but we were disappointed that we put ourselves in a position to put the All Blacks under pressure and to get back into the game and we let it slip.
“This is a big chance for these players to go out and show what they are capable of on Saturday night. For the players retained from the first Test it’s an opportunity for them to step up and to show an improvement because individually they were disappointed and you have another group coming in who are also desperate to seize their chance.”
British & Irish Lions (v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Saturday, July 1, 7.35pm NZST, 8.35am BST)
15. Liam Williams – Scarlets, Wales, #833
14. Anthony Watson – Bath Rugby, England, #816
13. Jonathan Davies – Scarlets, Wales, #778
12. Owen Farrell – Saracens, England, #780
11. Elliot Daly – Wasps, England, #822
10. Johnny Sexton – Leinster, Ireland, #791
9. Conor Murray – Munster, Ireland, #790
1. Mako Vunipola – Saracens, England, #787
2. Jamie George – Saracens, England, #819
3. Tadhg Furlong – Leinster, Ireland, #818
4. Maro Itoje – Saracens, England, #825
5. Alun Wyn Jones – Ospreys, Wales, #761
6. Sam Warburton (capt) – Cardiff Blues, Wales, #800
7. Sean O’Brien – Leinster, Ireland, #796
8. Taulupe Faletau – Bath Rugby, Wales, #779
16. Ken Owens – Scarlets, Wales, #829
17. Jack McGrath – Leinster, Ireland, #827
18. Kyle Sinckler – Harlequins, England, #814
19. Courtney Lawes – Northampton Saints, England, #826
20. CJ Stander – Munster, Ireland, #831
21. Rhys Webb – Ospreys, Wales, #820
22. Ben Te’o – Worcester Warriors, England, #815
23. Jack Nowell – Exeter Chiefs, England, #828