Read close to getting nod for All Blacks

Read close to getting nod for All Blacks

He secured his tour place with an excellent performance in Ireland's Six Nations win over England in Dublin in March and has clearly impressed the Lions' management.

The players may be stating publicly that they welcome any chance to pull on the Lions shirt, but by starting the mid-week match before the first Test, it generally means you'll have the day off come Saturday.

"It's probably Sean O'Brien or Peter O'Mahony that I'd be slightly concerned about - not necessarily because of the physical thing, but because they are completely mental", joked Haskell. The filters down to the Super Rugby franchises and even a depleted Chiefs lineup will have the ability to score points if they make the initial cut through the Lions defense.

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"It makes it hard to complete attacking opportunities and situations because there is so much happening off the ball in terms of holding players".

"He's got quite a rugged approach to the game and he does it very well", Cane said on Tuesday when asked what he thought of O'Mahony as a possible Lions skipper at Eden Park.

Ireland hooker Rory Best will captain the side, while Iain Henderson, Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw are also named to start. Our game is now flowing into one; set-piece into attack into breakdown into our kicking game, and on the reverse with the defensive stuff. Yet just how important is this match to the overall tour?

The 23-man squad that faces the Chiefs can not afford to take their eye off the ball to focus on the upcoming Test series, otherwise they will be turned over and any momentum from the 32-10 victory over the Maori All Blacks lost.

As for Hansen and some of the New Zealand media endeavouring to suggest there is a split in the Lions camp, it's made no impression on Farrell nor, he says, the players. The loose forward is backing up after representing the Maori All Blacks against the Lions in Rotorua.

"I'd be more than comfortable", said Farrell.

Evergreen New Zealand flanker hit back, insisting the world champions' tactics are within the laws.

"We're still not confirmed in terms of the number of the combinations", he said.

"That's made it hard".

For that to become an issue, the Lions would have to show more attacking intent than they did against the Maori. Gatland will want to a leave a good impression in a town in which, as a player for Waikato province between 1986 and 1994 and coach between 2005 and 2007, he has always been much-admired.