Sam Warburton will captain the British and Irish Lions
The Wales flanker will lead a Lions side containing nine debutants and six stars returning from the 2013 tour in Saturday’s tour opener in Whangarei.
Ireland’s Johnny Sexton and Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw will combine at half-back, with head coach Gatland admitting he wants to field his full 41-man squad across the Lions’ opening two fixtures.
The Lions face Super Rugby outfit the Blues in Auckland next Wednesday, leaving Gatland hopeful his tourists can make a fast start this weekend.
“We are lucky to have some real leaders in the squad and to be able to select them for this match in the likes of Rory Best, Alun Wyn Jones and Greig Laidlaw,” said Gatland, whose son is a fly-half at North Harbour.
British & Irish Lions predicted XV to face New Zealand Provincial Barbarians Wed, May 31, 2017
Express Sport predicts who will start for the British & Irish Lions in their first tour match against a New Zealand Provincial Barbarians side on Saturday
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Who will start for the British & Irish Lions during their first tour match?
We are lucky to have some real leaders in the squad and to be able to select them for this match
British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland
“I’m looking forward to seeing what Greig can do alongside Johnny Sexton who both are experienced half-backs. It is also great to have Sam starting in the first game of the tour, something he didn’t do in 2013 and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this weekend.
“The balance of the squad is really good, we have selected the majority of players who were together for the training weeks in Wales and Ireland and they have worked together and prepared well for a number of weeks.”
Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler is yet to start a match for England across his eight Test caps, but has now claimed the first Lions starting shirt available on the New Zealand tour.
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