Home #LoveRugby Preview: Blues v British & Irish Lions

Preview: Blues v British & Irish Lions

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The next stop for the British and Irish Lions will be Eden Park were the Blues will be waiting for them this Wednesday.

After a unimpressive performance in their first tour game against the Provincial Barbarians the Lions will have to step it up when facing the Blues as the tour is just getting harder with each game.

Wales hooker Ken Owens will captain the side Gatland have picked for this match with 10 other players making their debuts on tour.

Commenting on the team to face Super Rugby side the Blues, Gatland said: “We have made 15 changes to the starting XV and we are excited to see what this team is able to do against the Blues on Wednesday.

“We have stated from the off that we want to give every player a start in the first three games and Wednesday is an opportunity for this set of players to show what they can do in a Lions jersey.

“It was good to get the win under our belts last weekend. The boys in the stand were itching to get their chance and they are really excited about Wednesday.

“In terms of Ken, he has worked really hard on his recovery and it’s great to have him available. He has captained the Scarlets and has assumed a leadership role within the camp and it is a great opportunity for him.

“We are expecting a big crowd at Eden Park. It will be the first of three matches there for us and we know the atmosphere will be outstanding. We are hoping for some good weather and are expecting a tough, fast and open game of rugby.

“We have a few work ons from last weekend and we know we need to be more clinical. We created some good opportunities against the Barbarians but didn’t see them through and that is something we want to improve on Wednesday.”

The Blues in the meanwhile have named Sonny Bill Williams in their side, Williams sat out the Blues’ 34-29 win over the Reds in Samoa on Friday after picking up the injury a week earlier in their 16-16 draw with the Chiefs.

He had made a late return to Super Rugby after suffering an Achilles injury playing for the All Blacks Sevens at the Rio Olympics.

Williams has been bracketed at second five-eighth with TJ Faiane, and will need to come through training on Monday before his starting spot is confirmed.

The team will feature eight current or former All Blacks, and coach Tana Umaga says having senior players like Williams back from injury is an added bonus.

“There’s no doubt it will be challenging turnaround for us,” he said.

“In the last 30 days we have played four Super games in New Zealand, South Africa and Samoa, and now the British and Irish Lions.

“We are fortunate to have some senior players back from injury.”

Among those still missing due to injury are 77-Test All Black Jerome Kaino and prop Pauliasi Manu.

Umaga said Kaino, who had surgery on his knee in mid-April, was recovering well but not quite at the level needed to be considered for selection.

Prediction:This will be a tough game for the Lions as they have made 11 changes to their side and the Blues have played all season together in Super Rugby, I give this to the Blues by 9 points

Teams:

Blues: Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, George Moala, Sonny Bill Williams/ TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Stephen Perofeta, Augustine Pulu, Steve Luatua, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Scott Scrafton, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Ofa Tu’ungafasi. Replacements: Hame Faiva, Alex Hodgman, Sione Mafileo, Patrick Tuipulotu, Kara Pryor, Sam Nock, Ihaia West, TJ Faiane/Melani Nanai.

British and Irish Lions: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James Haskell, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 Liam Williams

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6 COMMENTS

  1. This is one mobile pack from the Lions… smashing the tackle zones… pity it’s peeing down now!

  2. Woo hoo… right down to the whistle and the Blues win!!!

    ‘Gatlandball’…

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