Rory Best will captain the British and Irish Lions for the first time on the tour of New Zealand after being named in one of 15 changes to the side that will face the Chiefs on Tuesday, with all six call-ups named among the replacements.
Best starts again alongside Joe Marler and Dan Cole, with Courtney Lawes returning from the head injury that forced him out of last week’s defeat by the Highlanders, having completed the relevant return-to-play protocols.
Lawes joins Iain Henderson in the second-row, with the Irishman taking his place in the starting line-up after featuring from the replacements in the last two matches for the Lions. Behind him, James Haskell and Justin Tipuric start at blindside and openside flanker respectively, with CJ Stander returning at No 8.
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As expected, Greig Laidlaw and Dan Biggar start at half-back, having come off the bench in Saturday’s 32-10 win over the Maori All Blacks, with Irish centre pairing Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne renewing their partnership, one that also started the defeat by the Blues, with English pair Elliot Daly and Jack Nowell on the wings.
Wales’ Liam Williams is given his first run-out at full-back, with the Saracens-bound back vying with George North and Daly for a place in the Test side.
“We are five games into the Tour and there is still a lot to play for,” Gatland said. Those involved on Tuesday will be playing not only for themselves in terms of further selection but also for the whole squad.
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The four Welshmen and two Scots that head coach Warren Gatland called up to the squad this week all feature among the replacements, with props Tomas Francis and Allan Dell, hooker Kristian Dacey, lock Cory Hill, scrum-half Gareth Davies and fly-half Finn Russell all set for their first appearances on the tour in what could also be their last,…