Best to lead new-look Lions, controversial additions among replacements

Warren Gatland speaks to the team

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When quizzed about his thoughts on the team to face the All Blacks in next Saturday's first Test, Gatland admitted he would have to have another look after Tuesday's match in Hamilton.

Gatland believes the Lions have been denied a number of try-scoring opportunities because of subtle blocking lines, especially against the Maori. The Kiwis are ruthless in those transitions. That is a simplistic view, of course, but there is fascination in the contrasts. "We are trying to manage them and for us it was important that we didn't take the risk and put him out there". "My job is to win the Test series and I'll do whatever it takes to do that".

All that is starting to feel like a false promise and the Lions could just as easily have come with 30 players at the start of last week, played the New Zealand Maori as a warm up and then got into the tests. I'm sure there will be different combinations.

Sexton was superb in Rotorua. It all adds to the fun of the build-up, so what harm?

So the British & Irish Lions are bringing in four Wales players and probably a few Scots to augment their squad in the lead-up to the first Test.

But there are five Ireland internationals named to start, meaning that the chances of Best, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw being involved on Saturday are minimal.

Still, the win and its inherent solidity will have proved some boon to Lions head coach Warren Gatland.

"It has been all about ourselves and improving from game to game".

Obviously for an England player to arrive in time to prepare for the Chiefs game they wouldn't be able to play in the second Argentina Test and would have to already be en route.

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"I'm a little bit surprised by Steve Hansen, who is normally pretty calm", Gatland said.

England flyhalf Owen Farrell has also suffered a quadriceps strain and could be in danger of missing the first test against the All Blacks next Saturday.

Gatland claimed he was "always confident" Owen Farrell would be fit for the first Test, despite the England fly-half still battling a thigh issue.

I'll never forget how good Shaun Edwards was in supporting play.

With Farrell a doubt, Jonathan Sexton seems nailed on for the number ten jersey, while his Ireland half back partner, Conor Murray, will nearly certainly start at number nine. Gatland has got options.

All six of Gatland's call-ups from Wales and Scotland this weekend will start on the bench, from which they'll likely make their Lions debuts.

"The Tullow Tank" was at his confrontational best in the Lions' clash with the Maori All Blacks.

All six players are on the bench on Tuesday. I'm proud of my roots and it's a great place to have grown up, gone to school here and played for Waikato.

"My only comment would be I would like to see it picked on merit rather than geographical proximity".

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