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British & Irish Lions

All change for British & Irish Lions as Warren Gatland names entirely new starting 15

Wales hooker Ken Owens handed captaincy for clash against Super Rugby’s Auckland Blues

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 June, 2017, 2:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 June, 2017, 9:43pm

Wales hooker Ken Owens will lead an all-new British & Irish Lions side for their second tour match against the Auckland Blues on Wednesday with the tourists looking for a step-up in performance.

Coach Warren Gatland announced a completely new side to that which scrambled to a 13-7 tour-opening win against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on Saturday.

Wales pair Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb will fill the crucial halves roles, with Ireland fly half Johnny Sexton, an unimpressive starter in Whangarei, on the bench.

“We have a few work ons from last weekend and we know we need to be more clinical,” Gatland said when naming the side on Monday.

“We created some good opportunities against the Barbarians but didn’t see them through and that is something we want to improve on.”

Owens was unavailable for the tour opener because of the ankle injury which also kept him out of the Scarlets’ Pro12 final win against Munster last month.

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But Gatland said he was fit to take over from tour captain Sam Warburton for what will be the Lions’ first test against a Super Rugby team.

“We have stated from the off that we want to give every player a start in the first three games and Wednesday is an opportunity for this set of players to show what they can do in a Lions jersey,” Gatland said.

“We have made 15 changes to the starting 15 and we are excited to see what this team is able to do against the Blues.”

Jared Payne, a late scratching from the Barbarians because of a thigh injury, will also start, partnering Ireland teammate Robbie Henshaw in the centres.

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Lions squad:

(1-23) Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ken Owens (captain, Wales), Dan Cole (England), Maro Itoje (England), Courtney Lawes (England), James Haskell (England), Justin Tipuric (Wales), CJ Stander (Ireland), Rhys Webb (Wales), Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Jared Payne (Ireland), Jack Nowell (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Rory Best (Ireland), Joe Marler (England), Kyle Sinckler (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Peter O’Mahony (Ireland), Greig Laidlaw (Scotland), Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Liam Williams (Wales).