Lions Tour: 5 players to watch

Sam Warburton has recovered from his knee injury and will captain the British and Irish Lions in their opening match against the Provincial Barbarians on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Welsh flank will start alongside three national captains - Wales' Alun Wyn Jones, Ireland's Rory Best and Scotland's Greig Laidlaw.

Chief among the players who will understand the need to make a strong early impression is Johnny Sexton, who starts in the 10 shirt on Saturday but knows he is under pressure from Owen Farrell.

'I think we've got some players at the moment who aren't known here, but they've got some X-factor, ' he said.

Central to that will be Bryn Gatland, Warren's son and the Barbarians' fly-half; but this is not a selection based on sentiment.

"Once every 12 years means, really, that you'll play them once in your career - so it's a very special time", Read said. They don't get pushed around at scrum time, they don't get messed around at the lineout, they're ball-carriers, their work rate is good, they tackle, they're on their feet, back in the game and doing the right things.

Northland's Josh Goodue says he's used to the little guy tag - and his new teammates know how to use it.

Each of the five Super Rugby teams gets a crack at the Lions.




"I spoke to him last night and he's been enjoying the week".

"With no tickets left on public sale for the Crusaders match or the three tests, and at least as many worldwide visitors expected as in 2005, this year's series will again be a remarkable economic boost for New Zealand".

"Obviously the whole focus is on the test matches but having been involved in 2013 and having spoken to people in the past.it's about giving everyone an opportunity and keeping harmony in the squad", Gatland said.

"We recognise it's going to be a hard game but we have plenty to play for and the boys can't wait to get out there. You are always a bit nervous of that.so I'm really pleased to be involved in the first one". After cramming a game plan into just seven days, forging an understanding between his group of players over a handful of training sessions, the British & Irish Lions' first opponents will take to the field looking to entertain.

Welshman Sam Warburton is a rugby player with a physical and emotional presence far greater than his 6-foot-2, 227-pound frame.

They will kick off a 10-match tour with a match against the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei on Saturday. "Given the limited preparation time we have and other challenges we've faced, it would be ludicrous of us to fight fire with fire".

Replacements: 16-Andrew Makalio, 17-Tolu Fahamokoia, 18-Marcel Renata, 19-Matt Matich, 20-Peter Rowe, 21-Richard Judd, 22-Jonah Lowe, 23-Junior Ngaluafe.

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