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Conor Murray key if Lions are to record test victory

Lions coaching

UNDOUBTEDLY the best scrum-half in world rugby at present, Conor Muray will be key to a significant Lions performance when they meet New Zealand in the first of three tests in Eden Park to-morrow (8.35 Irish time, Sky Sports).
There is massive Irish interest in the game with Peter O’Mahony captaining the side, Tadhg Furlong at tight head and Sean O’Brien at open side flanker and Jack McGrath and Johnny Sexton in the replacements.
It looks as if Warren Gatland is going to ask his side to ‘play the Saracens way’ with a lot of kicking from Murray to keep the Blacks on the back foot. There will be no fancy stuff from the Lions, they will try and get early points from the boot of Owen Farrell and if they can show the fire, grit and determination in defence that they produced in recent outings, it will go a long way to getting the victory.
The battle of the back-rows will be crucial with O’Mahony and O’Brien carrying a lot of responsibility on their broad shoulders. It promises to be a cracking match.
Gatland appeared to be confident this week: “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.
“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.”
British & Irish Lions (v New Zealand, 1st Test, Saturday, June 24, 7.35pm NZST, 8.35am BST)
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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