‘Chance for Lions to play into Test contention’ – preview v Hurricanes

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    Justin Tipuric and Dan Biggar are in the Lions side to face the Hurricanes
    Hurricanes v British and Irish Lions
    Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington Date: Tuesday, 27 June Kick-off: 08:35 BST
    Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Cymru. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

    The British and Irish Lions were beaten in Auckland; now the challenge is not to be broken in Wellington.

    While the second Test against New Zealand looms large, first the midweek side are tasked with lifting squad morale when they face the Hurricanes.

    For some, this will be the last time they wear the Lions jersey; for others, it is a chance to play their way into Test contention.

    As Elliot Daly and Liam Williams will testify, it is never too late.

    Team news

    Surplus to requirements twice last week, George North and Jonathan Joseph have a chance to revive their tours with a big performance in the Kiwi capital. Both would have had high hopes of being Test starters before boarding the plane.

    Courtney Lawes – arguably the form lock in the northern hemisphere in 2017 – again starts as he looks to sneak into the Test squad, while the versatile Jack Nowell is at full back.

    Having played 80 minutes at Eden Park, George Kruis is on the bench, while Rory Best captains as the midweek side look to build on their impressive victory over the Chiefs.

    But the Hurricanes – Super Rugby champions – will be considerably stronger than the opposition in Hamilton, with a handful of All Blacks released, such as the prolific Julian Savea.

    The British and Irish Lions have won four of their seven tour matches to date, but lost 30-15 to the All Blacks in Saturday’s opening Test

    Analysis

    While many of the Lions midweek team may feel their chances of making a significant impact on the tour are almost over, head coach Warren Gatland has shown he is prepared to pick on form.

    Joe Marler, Dan Cole, James Haskell, Dan Biggar and Jack Nowell all excelled in the win over their Chiefs, and will be looking for more of the same on Tuesday.

    A good performance and a victory would show a united front in the Lions squad, despite the deflating defeat in Auckland.

    But sources at the Hurricanes have spoken privately of a determination not to fold in the way the Chiefs did last week, and have picked their strongest possible side.

    Victory for the Lions’ midweek team at this stage of the tour would be a significant achievement.

    What they say

    Lions head coach Warren Gatland: “A few players put their hands up for selection from the Chiefs game and played their way into the Test team, so they know that there is another opportunity for them on Tuesday against the Super Rugby champions.”

    Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd: “It’s a fantastic event for our club, but also for the city of Wellington and the region.”

    Hurricanes wing Cory Jane: “To get on the field would be pretty cool. I’m showing my age – I’m 26 now.”

    Stats

    Julian Savea has been released by New Zealand to play for the Hurricanes

    4: Number of players released from the All Blacks squad back to the Hurricanes for the match: Vaea Fifita, Julian Savea, Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett.

    232: Number of international caps in the Lions front row of Joe Marler, Rory Best and Dan Cole.

    What do the locals say

    $30m roaring into town” – The Dominion Post on the financial boost the army of Lions supporters will provide to Wellington.

    “Laumape ‘pumped’ for chance to flex his muscles” – The Hurricanes centre has a point to prove.

    Social media

    Teams

    British and Irish Lions XV

    British and Irish Lions: J Nowell (England); T Seymour (Scotland); J Joseph (England), R Henshaw (Ireland); G North (Wales); D Biggar (Wales); G Laidlaw (Scotland); J Marler (England), R Best (Ireland, captain), D Cole (England), I Henderson (Ireland), C Lawes (England), J Haskell (England), J Tipuric (Wales), CJ Stander (Ireland). Replacements: K Dacey (Wales), A Dell (Scotland), T Francis (Wales), C Hill (Wales), G Kruis (England), G Davies (Wales), F Russell (Scotland), J Payne (Ireland).

    View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/40403261

    Hurricanes: J Barrett, N Milner-Skudder, V Aso, N Laumape, J Savea, O Black, T Toiroa-Tahuriorangi, B May, R Ricitelli, J To’omaga-Allen, M Abbott, S Lousi, V Fifita, C Gibbins, B Shields (captain). Replacements: L Apisai, C Eves, M Kainga, J Blackwell, R Prinsep, K Hauiti-Parapara, W Goosen, C Jane.

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