British & Irish Lions bench skipper Sam Warburton for Maori All Blacks clash
Tour captain is relegated to the bench for the clash against the Maori All Blacks on Saturday
Tour captain Sam Warburton has been relegated to the bench for the British and Irish Lions clash against the Maori All Blacks on Saturday, with Peter O’Mahony taking over in a match the tourists view as a ‘fourth test’.
Warburton led the Lions to a disappointing 23-22 loss to the Highlanders midweek and coach Warren Gatland opted instead to hand Ireland flanker O’Mahony the skipper’s armband.
“Peter is a proven captain with Munster,” Gatland said.
“He never takes a backward step and we believe that those leadership qualities will serve us well on Saturday against a quality and determined Maori All Blacks team.”
Gatland also went for an all-Irish combination at nine and 10, with Johnny Sexton starting ahead of Owen Farrell at fly-half and Conor Murray at scrum-half.
The Lions are looking to bounce back after their second defeat of the tour and Gatland’s selection against the Maori team is expected to be close to his first-choice test team.
“We were obviously disappointed with the loss against the Highlanders and realise that we need to improve in several areas, including our discipline, but we feel that overall we are building well towards the test matches,” he said.
The three-test series against the world champion All Blacks begins on June 24.
Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon/WAL); Anthony Watson (Bath/ENG), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets/WAL), Ben Te’o (Worcester/ENG), George North (Northampton/ENG); Johnny Sexton (Leinster/IRL), Conor Murray (Munster/IRL); Taulupe Faletau (Bath/WAL), Sean O’Brien (Leinster/IRL), Peter O’Mahony (capt - Munster/IRL); George Kruis, Saracens/ENG), Maro Itoje (Saracens/ENG); Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/IRL), Jamie George (Saracens/ENG), Mako Vunipola (Saracens/ENG)
Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets/WAL), Jack McGrath (Leinster/IRL), Kyle Sinckler(Harlequins/ENG), Iain Henderson (Ulster/IRL), Sam Warburton (Cardiff/WAL), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester/SCO), Owen Farrell (Saracens/ENG), Elliot Daly (Wasps/ENG)