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Nine All Blacks in Crusaders team to face Lions

12 Juin 2017

Farrell, rated "one of the top players in northern hemisphere rugby" by Lions coach Warren Gatland, begins the game alongside Conor Murray at half-back, with Ben Te'o and Jonathan Davies the centre pairing.

The visitors delivered an unconvincing win against the semi-professional Provincial Barbarians in their opening game and on Wednesday lost to the Auckland Blues, New Zealand's worst-performing Super Rugby side this season.

The Lions have refused to risk Sam Warburton, who is carrying an ankle niggle, but aside from that Gatland has named a starting team for the Crusaders that boasts a host of potential Test-match combinations.

"We think he'll galvanise the side. up until the first Test I don't think he'll show all his cards".

"There's so much depth in this country".

Wales star Alun Wyn Jones will captain the Britain and Irish Lions when they take on the Crusaders on Saturday.

'It's going to give us great preparation playing at this level and learning from these hard competitive games.

Gatland's comments were met with derision in many quarters.

But that bemused All Blacks coach Hansen, who felt Gatland must have been searching for "a bit of humour" in making the comparison to the world champion.

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Just as the tourists looked to have seized the momentum with a 16-15 lead over the lowest-placed Kiwi Super Rugby side, West put on the afterburners to race to the line after being set free by offloads from Steven Luatua and Sonny Bill Williams.

The problem they have is that rather than players putting their hands up and forcing their way into the team, the trend so far is for players to play their way off it.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson predicted a "fantastic clash".

He played in the disappointing tour opener against the Barbarians in Whangarei last Saturday but expects this team to be more cohesive, to be able to pick up the pace of their play as the game progresses - and to be more disciplined.

Replacements: B Funnell, W Crockett, M Alaalatoa, Q unusual, J Brown, M Drummond, M Hunt, T Bateman.

Lions team: Hogg, North, Davies; Te'o, Williams, Farrell, Murray; Vunipola, George, Furlong, Jones (capt), Kruis, O'Mahony, O'Brien, Faletau. Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Dan Cole, Maro Itoje, C.J. Stander, Rhys Webb, Johnny Sexton, Anthony Watson.

The Crusaders will start with all-Test front five in the pack as well as full-back Israel Dagg while prop Wyatt Crockett was named on the bench.

The British and Irish Lions have just over two weeks to meet a lofty target on their tour of New Zealand.

The start wasn't auspicious, as the Blues settled the quicker and took the lead through an unconverted try from the hugely impressive Ioane, but the Lions were quick to force their way back into the game.

Nine All Blacks in Crusaders team to face Lions