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Will Warren’s selection prove to be right choice

THE former Welsh coach has taken a chance by naming those more familiar to him for Saturday’s second test against the All Blacks. Sam Warbuton captains the side but there is no togging out on the day for former skipper Peter O’Mahony (pictured). It’s an all-Ireland half-back partnership with Murray and Sexton starting, which should be interesting; Tadhg Furlong holds his place at tight head while Sean O’Brien fully deserves the call in the back-row.
There is a lot of sympathy in this region for O’Mahony. On his day he can turn a game in his side’s favour and even allowing for a quiet enough outing in the first test, it is questionable why he did not even make the bench.
The omission of Ben Te’o is also a matter for discussion and there will be a lot of responsibility now on the shoulders of Owen Farrell to make things tick in midfield.
It would appear from the line-up that Lions’ possession is going to end up in the evening skies of Wellington for much of the game with strong options for ‘garryowens’ from Sexton, Farrell and Murray to keep the All Blacks in retreat.
CJ Stander is the ideal man to make an impact from the bench. He has struggled a little bit since the turn of the year to maintain full throttle for the full 80 minutes but it looks certain that he will be used earlier rather than later in this game.
Head Coach Warren Gatland said:
“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. 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 first Test and there were a few that we didn’t finish.
“There were lots of positives 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 (v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Saturday, July 1, 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. 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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