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Faletau and Watson to start first Lions Test

22 June 2017

Bath Rugby’s Taulupe Faletau and Anthony Watson have both been selected to start for the British and Irish Lions on Saturday in the first Test against New Zealand.

Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony, who led the Lions in the victory over the Maori All Blacks, will skipper the side at Eden Park.

Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “We have picked a side based on form with a lot of players putting their hands up, especially from the Crusaders and Maori All Blacks games, and it was a lively selection meeting.

“The win against the Chiefs was also extremely important for the squad and some players played themselves into the side.

“We have continuously been strong at set piece and have been good defensively in the last two or three outings. But to beat the All Blacks you have to be courageous and play some rugby – you have to score tries and I think we have picked a team capable of doing that.”

The pack is retained from the Crusaders victory, including the back row of O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and Faletau and Gatland added: “It’s a reward for how the back row has gone. There is a nice balance there while Peter captained the side against the Maori All Blacks and has done a good job.”

There are seven Test Lions in the starting XV with three more on the bench in a match day squad combining experience and form.

Liam Williams is selected at full back and Elliot Daly on the wing following the four-try victory against the Chiefs on Tuesday and Gatland added: “Elliot has been very accurate in the way he has played and we saw some excellent attacking play from Liam on Tuesday night. We are excited about the 15 that take the field but also the very strong and experienced bench players who will have an impact.”

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. Ben Te’o – Worcester Warriors, England, #815

11. Elliot Daly – Wasps, England, #822

10. Owen Farrell – Saracens, England, #780

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. Alun Wyn Jones – Ospreys, Wales, #761

5. George Kruis – Saracens, England, #817

6. Peter O’Mahony (capt) – Munster, Ireland, #832

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. Maro Itoje – Saracens, England, #825

20. Sam Warburton – Cardiff Blues, Wales, #800

21. Rhys Webb – Ospreys, Wales, #820

22. Johnny Sexton – Leinster, Ireland, #791

23. Leigh Halfpenny – Toulon, Wales, #775

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