Saturday 25 November 2017

Stander and Best start against Hurricanes - does it rule them out of second test?

Rory Best will captain the British and Irish Lions on Tuesday
Rory Best will captain the British and Irish Lions on Tuesday

Ruaidhri O’Connor in Wellington

The prospects of CJ Stander or Iain Henderson propelling themselves into the Lions’ starting XV for Saturday’s second Test lessened this morning as both men were pressed into service for Tuesday’s final mid-week game against the Hurricanes.

As Warren Gatland sifts through the wreckage of a comprehensive first Test defeat to New Zealand, he has included just one of the 23 players who featured at Eden Park – George Kruis – in his match-day squad.

Rory Best skippers the side for the second time as they prepare to face a strong representation from the Super Rugby champions who named Julian Savea, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Jordie Barrett in their back-three for the clash.

Gatland is expected to make changes to his team for the second Test with Saturday’s captain Peter O’Mahony among those in the firing line after the pack were bullied by the world champions.

Both Stander and Henderson have been among the better ball carrying performers along with another starter Courtney Lawes, but all three have been tasked with playing once again as the pack that helped beat the Chiefs last week is kept together.

Behind the scrum, Greig Laidlaw is paired with Dan Biggar once again while Robbie Henshaw continues his record of starting all of the mid-week games; this time partnering Jonathan Joseph in midfield.

The back three sees George North get an opportunity on the left wing with Jack Nowell starting at full-back and Tommy Seymour on the right.

Gatland has named all six of his controversial call-ups on the bench, having only pressed one of them  - Scotland's Allen Dell - into service last week against the Chiefs.

In reality, few of those who start - particularly in the pack - will be able to go again in four days' time, although they may be able to press their case for a bench spot.

"We are obviously hugely disappointed with the result on Saturday but it is important to regroup," said head coach Warren Gatland, urging his Lions to move past the first Test defeat.

"We know there are a lot of players motivated to go out and get a result for the whole group.

"A few players put their hands up for selection from the Chiefs game and played their way into the Test team, so they know that there is another opportunity for them on Tuesday against the Super Rugby champions."

HURRICANES - -J Barrett, N Milner-Skudder, V Aso, N Laumape, J Savea; O Black, TT Tahuriorangi; B May, R Riccitelli, J To’omaga-Allen; M Abbott, S Lousi; V Fifita, C Gibbins, B Shields (capt).

LIONS – J Nowell (Exeter/England); T Seymour (Glasgow/Scotland), J Joseph (Bath/England), R Henshaw (Leinster/Ireland), G North (Northampton/Wales); D Biggar (Ospreys/Wales), G Laidlaw (Gloucester/Scotland); J Marler (Harlequins/England), R Best (capt, Ulster/Ireland), D Cole (Leicester/Engand); I Henderson (Ulster/Ireland), C Lawes (Northampton/England); J Haskell (Wasps/England), J Tipuric (Ospreys/Wales), CJ Stander (Munster/Ireland). Reps: K Dacey (Cardiff/Wales), A Dell (Edinburgh/Scotland), T Francis (Exeter/Wales), C Hill (Dragons/Wales), G Kruis (Saracens/England), G Davies (Scarlets/Wales), F Russell (Glasgow/Scotland), J Payne (Ulster/Ireland).

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