Warburton to lead Lions in opening game

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    01 Jun 2017     Getty Images

Nine members of the 2013 Lions tour of Australia have been included in the match-day squad which will be led by tour captain and flanker Sam Warburton.

Gatland said: "We are all hugely excited about the first game on tour, it's a great opportunity for the starting XV and the whole match day squad to lay down a marker and get the tour off to a good start.
"We are lucky to have some real leaders in the squad and to be able to select them for this match in the likes of Rory Best, Alun Wyn Jones and Greig Laidlaw," he said.

It is an important game for the Scotland halfback Laidlaw who wasn't originally selected for the tour.

He is paired in the halves with Ireland first five-eighths Johnny Sexton.

It is also an early chance for Warburton to make an impression after an injury-plagued build-up to the tour.

Gatland said: "The balance of the squad is really good, we have selected the majority of players who were together for the training weeks in Wales and Ireland and they have worked and prepared well for a number of weeks.

"It is important these guys get a run early and lay down a marker for others to follow.

"We've picked the team for Saturday but it is still the plan to try and give the whole squad a start in the next two matches. It is important the players get that opportunity, because if they go well and the team goes well, they put themselves in the shop window for a Test start," he said.

The Lions team to play the NZ Provincial Barbarians is: 

1: Joe Marler
2: Rory Best
3: Kyle Sinckler
4: Alun Wyn Jones
5: Iain Henderson
6: Ross Moriarty
7: Sam Warburton (captain) 
8: Taulupe Faletau
9: Greig Laidlaw
10: Johnny Sexton
11: Tommy Seymour
12: Ben Te'o
13: Jonathan Joseph
14: Anthony Watson
15: Stuart Hogg


16.Jamie George,
17: Mako Vunipola
18: Tadhg Furlong
19: George Kruis
20: Justin Tipuric
21: Rhys Webb
22: Owen Farrell
23: Jared Payne