Absolutely incredible honour for Peter O'Mahony as five Irish players on Lions team to face Maori All Blacks
Now it gets serious.
The Lions have two more games left before they open their test series with New Zealand and Warren Gatland isn't f**king around.
With the clash with the Maori All Blacks taking place one week out from the first showdown with Steven Hansen's side, the 15 named to start on Saturday is a good indicator of how the Lions might set up the following weekend.
- Maori All Blacks (June 17)
- Chiefs (June 20)
- New Zealand (June 24)
The game with the Maori All Blacks takes place at 8:35am Irish time and the line-up for that clash could have real impact on the team named to play the All Blacks and three Irishman will get the opportunity to cement their starting places.
Gatland has named five Ireland stars in his starting XV and has bestowed the captaincy on one Peter O'Mahony. The Kiwi commented:
"Peter is a proven captain with Munster. He never takes a backward step and we believe that those leadership qualities will serve us well on Saturday against a quality and determined Maori All Blacks team.”
The Lions will line up as follows on Saturday:
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS MATCHDAY 23
15. Leigh Halfpenny
14. Anthony Watson
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Ben Te'o
11. George North
10. Jonathan Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Maro Itoje
5. George Kruis
6. Peter O'Mahony (capt)
7. Sean O'Brien
8. Taulupe Faletau
16. Ken Owens, 17. Jack McGrath, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Iain Henderson, 20. Sam Warburton, 21. Greig Laidlaw, 22. Owen Farrell, 23. Elliot Daly
There is no CJ Stander in the squad but there are bench spots for Jack McGrath and Iain Henderson. Interestingly, tour captain Sam Warburton can only make the bench as Sean O'Brien gets another start at openside.
It's going to take some stopping the All Blacks next week though. As if a reminder was needed of how strong the New Zealanders were, their team to face Samoa is bordering on a joke.
Sonny Bill is back https://t.co/eoAQeWD96s
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) June 14, 2017