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Faletau and Watson retain Lions starting places

29 June 2017

Bath Rugby’s Taulupe Faletau and Anthony Watson have both retained their places in the starting line-up for the second British and Irish Lions Test against New Zealand at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

Sam Warburton replaces Peter O’Mahony in the starting line-up and captains the side, which shows 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 team to face New Zealand            

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

Replacements

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

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