Peter O'Mahony to captain Lions as Warren Gatland names team for first Test
Peter O'Mahony has become the 11th Irishman to captain a British & Irish Lions test team after he was selected ahead of tour captain Sam Warburton for this weekend's opening Test against New Zealand in Auckland.
After captaining the Lions to a dominant 32-10 win over the Māori All Blacks last weekend, O'Mahony will once again lead the tourists out when they meet the defending world champion All Blacks in Eden Park on Saturday.
O'Mahony is one of four Irish players selected by Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland in the starting XV, with Tadhg Furlong and Sean O'Brien joining the Munster flanker in the forwards, while in the backs, provincial teammate Conor Murray will start at scrum-half and will be joined in the halves by Saracens playmaker Owen Farrell, who gets the nod over Johnny Sexton at fly-half.
Commenting on his selection, 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.”
Gatland said that the back-row of O'Mahony, O'Brien and Faletau were rewarded for their strong performance against the Maori All Blacks.
"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.”
Lions: Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Davies, Ben Te’o, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, Conor Murray; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Tadhg Furlong, Alun Wyn Jones, George Kruis, Peter O’Mahony (c), Sean O’Brien, Taulupe Faletau
Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Sam Warburton, Rhys Webb, Jonathan Sexton, Leigh Halfpenny.
New Zealand: Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor,Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (c).
Replacements: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden/Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown.