Home Rugby Warren Gatland Explains His Starting XV Selection For The Lions’ Opening Game

Warren Gatland Explains His Starting XV Selection For The Lions’ Opening Game

Warren Gatland has named the fifteen that will begin the Lions tour of New Zealand against in this weekend’s clash against the Provincial Barbarians.

An interesting mix of the four nations involved has seen all of the three Scottish players in the squad all handed a start in the fifteen (as many as Ireland), while the back row positions and centre partnership are dominated by Wales and England respectively.

MAYNOOTH, IRELAND - MAY 22:  Sam Warburton, the Lions captain, looks on during the British and Irish Lions media session held at Carton House Golf Club on May 22, 2017 in Maynooth, Ireland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

In explaining his decisions in terms of his first starting fifteen, Gatland stated that the mixture of youth and experience would be an interesting one, with the ultimate aim of each of the players involved – and he promised that he would rotate for the following fixture – would (hopefully) be putting themselves in the frame for a potential start against the All Blacks at the end of next month.

“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 have named a side that showcases a strong combination of experience and youth and we are really looking forward to Saturday.

“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. I’m looking forward to seeing what Greig can do alongside Johnny Sexton who both are experienced half-backs. It is also great to have Sam starting in the first game of the tour, something he didn’t do in 2013 and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this weekend.”

CARDIFF, WALES - MAY 15: Greig Laidlaw (L) and Stuart Hogg (R) speak to British & Irish Lions coach Neil Jenkins during a British and Irish Lions training session at Vale of Glamorgan on May 15, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

“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 together 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.”

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Read More: Dates, Times And Channels – Everything You Need To Know To Watch All The Lions Matches This Summer

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