Sam Warburton to lead Lions in tour opener

LIONS bolters Kyle Sinckler and Ben Te'o have gone straight into the starting side for Saturday's first tour match in New Zealand.

Captain Sam Warburton has been named in the British and Irish Lions side that will take on the Provincial Barbarians in the first match of their tour to New Zealand on Saturday. That's completely up to them but I know we'll do our homework.

The Loop Duty Free New Zealand General Manager Tom Byrne said: "It's not every day that our team gets to experience the phenomenon that is the British and Irish Lions, but I may be biased as an Irishman [yes, you are Tom -Ed]".

"I see the tour in two parts: everything up to the Maori game [on 17 June] before the first Test and then everything post that".

Others were called in, from New Zealand's 15 provinces.

History also appears weighted against the tourists, who have won only one of 11 previous Test series contested in New Zealand, when the John Dawes-led Lions battled to a 2-1 victory in 1971.

Ireland lock Iain Henderson said the men in green "got under the All Blacks' skin" in their shock 40-29 win and the Lions will aim to do the same in New Zealand. "Hopefully get the tour off to a good start".

"Some of the guys next week will have their first hit-out against one of the best club sides in the world". Williams will surely feel he can do enough over the next three weeks to take one, too. "We won't achieve that if we're thinking play tight, so it'll be around given the players scope to express themselves, and confidence and to go out and enjoy the occasion".

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"The Lions tour is providing that additional burst of activity and in many respects because of the nature of the Lions tour it will drive the All Blacks brand".

"I don't care how we win".

The integrated campaign features tour captain Sam Warburton, Rory Best and Greig Laidlaw in both stills and film, with activation in-store and across digital and social media channels.

"We would have liked to have done that but with a week's preparation and the enormity of the game, it would have been unfair on the players had we asked them to learn a haka that would have done justice to the occasion".

Lions coach Warren Gatland's 22-year-old son Bryn will marshal the backs from five-eighth, with support from Waikato veteran Dwayne Sweeney at inside centre. They've never really anxious about us in terms of the way they've prepared.

Payne's challenge now will be to shake off an injury for which the severity is not yet known, in time to make full impact on the Lions' 10-match tour.

Warburton also said jet lag would not be an excuse for any shortcomings on Saturday, and pointed out that with an 11-month-old child he's had more sleep in the last three nights than much of the past year.

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