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Warburton to captain Lions in crucial second Test

29th June 2017

Sam Warburton has been named captain for the British and Irish Lions' crucial second Test against New Zealand at Westpac Stadium on Saturday (KO 8.35am BST).

Having started on the bench for the opening Test last week, Warburton will wear the number six jersey at Wellington, playing alongside Sean O’Brien and Taulupe Faletau in the back row.

Warburton, replacing Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony, is one of three changes to the Lions’ starting XV, following last week’s 30-15 defeat to the All Blacks at Eden Park in the series opener.

Maro Itoje comes into the second row to partner Alun Wyn Jones, while Johnny Sexton replaces Ben Te’o in the backline, with Owen Farrell moving into the inside centre position. 

Elsewhere, replacements Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander and Jack Nowell are all named in the Test squad for the first time.

Head coach Warren Gatland explained that Itoje and Warburton’s inclusion in the side will bring extra impact and edge into the contact area.

“We saw Maro’s impact in the first Test and he will bring an edge and a physicality, as will Sam Warburton in terms of pressure on the ball,” said Gatland

“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 for the bench,

“You have to make the tough calls and pick what is the right team and the right combinations for a Test match.

“There were lots of positive from the first Test 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 and Irish Lions: Liam Williams (Saracens & Wales); Anthony Watson (Bath & England), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets & Wales), Owen Farrell (Saracens & England), Elliot Daly (Wasps & England); Johnny Sexton (Leinster & Ireland), Conor Murray (Munster & Ireland); Mako Vunipola (Saracens & England), Jamie George (Saracens & England), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster & Ireland), Maro Itoje (Saracens & England), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys & Wales), Sam Warburton (c) (Cardiff Blues & Wales), Sean O'Brien (Leinster & Ireland), Taulupe Faletau (Bath & Wales)

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets & Wales), Jack McGrath (Leinster & Ireland), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins & England), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints & England), CJ Stander (Munster & Ireland), Rhys Webb (Ospreys & Wales), Ben Te'o (Worcester Warriors & England), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs & England)

New Zealand: Israel Dagg; Waisake Naholo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (capt)

Replacements: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Ngani Laumape.