Warburton leads strong Lions side

Sam Warburton will captain a powerful British & Irish Lions team in Saturday's tour-opener against a Provincial Barbarians XV in Whangarei.

Warburton returns from a knee injury that sidelined him in April, and will start alongside other national captains such as Wales' Alun Wyn Jones, Ireland's Rory Best and Scotland's Greig Laidlaw.

Coach Warren Gatland said he wanted the Lions to lay down an early marker, and therefore included a number of stalwarts in the lineup, including Johnny Sexton at flyhalf.

The starting XV includes five players from England, four from Wales and three each from Ireland and Scotland.

'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,' Gatland said.

Interestingly, Gatland's son Bryn will start at flyhalf for the Barbarians, and could also turn out for the Blues in the second tour match next Wednesday.

Lions – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rory Best, 1 Joe Marler.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Tadgh Furlong, 19 George Kruis, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Jared Payne.
Provincial Barbarians XV – 15 Luteru Laulala, 14 Sam Vaka, 13 Inga Finau, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Jack Stratton, 8 Mitchell Dunshea, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 James Tucker, 5 Keepa Mewett, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Oliver Jager, 2 Sam Anderson-Heather (c), 1 Aidan Ross.
Subs: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Tolu Fahamokoia, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Matt Matich, 20 Peter Rowe, 21 Richard Judd, 22 Jonah Lowe, 23 Junior Ngaluafe.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

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Craig Lewis