British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has signalled a change in approach from his five-eighths for the second Test against the All Blacks on Wellington on Saturday.
Second five-eighths Ben Te’o, who did such a significant job defensively to contain Sonny Bill Williams, has been dropped to the substitutes’ bench as Owen Farrell has been named at second five-eighths to accommodate Johnny Sexton at first five-eighths.
Other changes sees first Test captain Peter O’Mahony dropped from the 23 along with lock George Kruis with Maro Itoje joining Alun Wyn Jones in locking the scrum.
Lock Courtney Lawes, No.8 CJ Stander and three-quarter Jack Nowell have been added to the substitutes after strong showings against the Hurricanes in midweek.
Gatland said: “We saw Maro’s impact on the first Test and he will bring an edge and a physicality, as will Sam Warburton in terms of pressure on the ball.
“It’s tough on Peter O’Mahony who has done a brilliant job for us.
“We had to look at the bench and we felt that CJ Stander’s ball-carrying and defence was the right choice for the bench,” he said.
“You have to make tough calls and pick what is the right team and the right combinations for a Test match.”
Gatland said pairing Sexton and Farrell gave them an attacking option in the five-eighths channel.
“We created opportunities in the first Test and there were a few that we didn’t finish.
“There were lots of positives from the first Test but we were disappointed that we put ourselves in a position to put the All Blacks under pressure and to get back into the game and we let it slip.
“This is a big chance for these players to go out and show what they are capable of on Saturday night.
“For the players retained from the first Test it’s an opportunity for them to step up and to show an improvement because individually they were disappointed and you have another group coming in who are also desperate to seize their chance,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Lions will not be able to call on the services of Robbie Henshaw and George North. Henshaw suffered a torn pectoral and North a hamstring tear against the Hurricanes and are to return home.
The Lions team is: 1.Mako Vunipola, 2.Jamie George, 3.Tadhg Furlong, 4.Maro Itoje, 5.Alun Wyn Jones, 6.Sam Warburton (captain), 7.Sean O’Brien, 8.Taulupe Faletau, 9.Conor Murray, 10.Johnny Sexton, 11.Elliot Daly, 12.Owen Farrell, 13.Jonathan Davies, 14.Anthony Watson, 15.Liam Williams.
Substitutes: 16.Ken Owens, 17.Jack McGrath, 18.Kyle Sinckler, 19.Courtney Lawes, 20.CJ Stander, 21.Rhys Webb, 22.Ben Te’o, 23.Jack Nowell.
There are still a limited number of tickets available for this Saturday’s match between the All Blacks and The British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium.
BUY NOW: http://bit.ly/2ukhTNL
Be there. Be heard. OUTROAR.