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Lions: Sexton Discusses Playing Alongside Farrell Ahead Of Crucial All Blacks Test

Auckland , New Zealand - 24 June 2017; Jonathan Sexton, left, and Owen Farrell of the British & Irish Lions during the First Test match between New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

One of the major changes Warren Gatland made ahead of the Lions’ second Test against the All Blacks was to select Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton together in midfield. 

After an opening Test lost to Steve Hansen’s men, the Lions boss is, according to many, taking a huge risk playing the duo together, with Sexton featuring at fly-half while Farrell takes up the inside-centre role.

Elsewhere, the demotion of Peter O’Mahony, having previously captained the side, has also raised a few eyebrows ahead of what is a must-win game for the Lions.

But, focusing on the midfield pairing ahead of the clash on Saturday at the Wespac Stadium, Sexton was looking forward to matching up with a player he says he has a good relationship with – in a Lions shirt at least.

“I am really excited about playing with him. I have always admired him,” Sexton told RTÉ Sport.

“We’ve got on great and stayed in contact since the last (Lions) tour. We’ve got a good relationship – apart from trying to kill each other at the Aviva Stadium (when Ireland played England) last time! We get on great.”

While Sexton, with 66 caps for Ireland, realises he is far from merely lucky he is in the team given his immense talent, he is also full of praise for a player he readily admits is his equal in this team.

“I was asked whether it was the biggest challenge of my career to try to get ahead of Owen, and because of the respect I have for him I said yes.

“He is a world-class outside-half. But I back myself, and hopefully I can bring something to the team this week that will get us over the line.”

Sexton, Farrell and every other starter will need to have the game of their lives against a side also needing little motivation to win this Test.

The Lions have not won a series over New Zealand since Carwyn James masterminded a 2-1 victory over the All Blacks in 1971. That scoreline is still within reach but achieving that from this starting point looks at this stage very unlikely.

If Gatland can be proven right in his decisions this weekend, however, it will be an extremely exciting week ahead of the third and final Test in Auckland.

Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.