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Farrell out, Warburton benched for Lions


Back in 2013, Warren Gatland called the retired Wales winger up and asked him if he fancied joining the Lions squad.

Victory in the unofficial fourth Test against the Maori All Blacks could prove absolutely vital to the success of this Lions tour but they will be without Owen Farrell on Saturday.

Coach Warren Gatland had indicated he would unveil a Test-strength starting lineup to face the Maori at Rotorua on Saturday, a week out from the series-opening Test against New Zealand.

"It is our first hit out of 2017 and I think we have found previously we have found some work-ons in our first test". Though, that is something which he chose no to do following the tour-ending injury to Stuart Hogg.

"Being able to dig deep and bring performances from places where a lot of players individually or teams collectively often can't do. I'm not sure they'll make many changes from that game against Samoa to the following weeks".

"The boys know they are playing the best team in the world and they know if they don't get it right, it's going to be a long day".

Hansen followed that up with what appeared to be a little dig at the number of southern hemisphere born players in the Lions squad.

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"Peter is a proven captain with Munster who 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."

"I didn't think I was going to get picked for the Lions". Before the All Blacks play Samoa, Wales will play Tonga at Eden Park. "Our vision was to position Maori rugby in the global area, we had to be in the top four, and that is always where we position the team to be", Mr Te Pou says. Ardie Savea will lose out at No 8 to captain Kieran Read but Codie Taylor is expected to start next week too, in the absence of Dane Coles who is recovering from concussion.

O'Mahony could prove a genuine captaincy option for the Lions' first Test, with tour skipper Sam Warburton still scrambling for full match sharpness after ankle trouble.

In particular the All Blacks will be hoping Samoa can emulate the Lions style of play with high, contestable kicks, a powerful front row to sort out scrum issues, and hard running centres.

The Lions have already lost twice on tour, to the Auckland Blues and The Hurricanes on Tuesday, and will be desperate to avoid a third defeat before even coming up against their main competitors on the tour. "I would like to say I have played some good games for Munster as well this season".

"He was involved in almost all of the games I've played with Munster and Ireland and he'd a huge influence".

"When you play against the Pacific island teams, if you don't match these guys physically you're in for a long day", Roberts said.

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