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British and Irish Lions team to face Maori All Blacks

17 June 2017

Sean O'Brien hasn't had a lot of rugby either.

Head coach Warren Gatland will want the 25-year-old to play a pivotal role in the opening Test against the All Blacks on Saturday week at Eden Park.

"Every game is a big challenge, which is what we wanted, and this is an experienced Lions team with eight of the starting side involved in the last Test in Australia in 2013".

O'Mahony is the captain of Munster at club level, and Gatland backed him to rise to the occasion in the red shirt against a fearsome Maori opponent.

There's some very exciting news from an Irish perspective in the Lions team to face the Maori All Blacks on Saturday.

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Gatland and the Lions continue to remain coy over the chances of Sexton and Owen Farrell forming a playmaking duo at fly-half and inside centre for the first Test on June 24.

"Gardner will have done that too, so I think he'd have a pretty good idea about how the Lions have been scrummaging".

"It's a huge honour, obviously to be picked for the Lions at all is a massive honour", said O'Mahony.

"Even though it's a strong side we've got to make sure we're not fully showing our hand". McKenzie is more often seen at full-back for the Chiefs, so it will be interesting to see how he plays at ten - expect them to run a lot of ball, particularly with a unsafe back three of James Lowe, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Rieko Ioane, and use chip kicks to try to get behind the Lions' rush defence.

"We want to win but first and foremost we need a performance". Whatever comes after that is what comes.

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Now Farrell is out of the Maori match with a leg injury, Dan Biggar takes his place in the reserves and Sexton is in pole position to start against the All Blacks a week on Saturday. Anthony Watson (Bath/England) #816 13.

The starting side includes 11 players who started in the Lions' gutsy 12-3 win over the Canterbury Crusaders, their most impressive display on tour so far. George North (Northampton Saints/England) #792 10.

Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets, Wales), J McGrath (Leinster, Ireland), K Sinckler (Harlequins, England), I Henderson (Ulster, Ireland), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, Wales), G Laidlaw (Gloucester, Scotland), O Farrell (Saracens, England), E Daly (Wasps, England).

The Crusaders bossed the scrum despite some questionable rulings from referee Mathieu Raynal and Joe Moody's battle with Tadhg Furlong in the front row augured well for New Zealand with the pair likely to clash again in the tests. There is no better sight, for many Munster and Ireland supporters, than O'Mahony roaring to the heavens after a hard-fought penalty is won, a try is scored or an opponent bested.

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British and Irish Lions team to face Maori All Blacks