Gatland to face Gatland in tour opener

Gatland to face Gatland in tour opener

Every four years, the British and Irish Lions visit one of the three Southern Hemisphere rugby giants - South Africa, Australia or New Zealand - in a series that culminates with three ferocious global clashes (after a couple of warm-up games against regional sides, where the hodgepodge Lions must quickly learn to jell with their unfamiliar teammates).

Staff at The Loop Duty Free at Auckland Airport donned their favorite rugby jerseys (instead of their usual corporate uniform) yesterday to mark the arrival of the British and Irish Lions rugby team in New Zealand.

Johnny Sexton, Rory Best and Iain Henderson will all be given the nod from the start to face Provincial Barbarians on Saturday. I'm looking forward to seeing what Greig can do alongside Johnny Sexton who both are experienced half-backs.

"When we first looked at putting together a squad, the initial process was around understanding what sort of game we wanted to play and the type of player that would meet the profile of that game plan", said McMillan.

"This is mine. No-one can ever take this away from me now".

"I want the players to put us coaches under pressure and make the job hard for us in terms of selection and who we are going to pick when it comes to the first Test".

The last Lions visit in 2005 contributed more than NZ$250 million (US$177.48 million) in economic activity and provided an additional NZ$25 million to the host union. "You are always a bit nervous of that.so I'm really pleased to be involved in the first one".

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Defensively strong like Italians are known for, so we understand it's going to be a very hard game but we're going to be prepared. Bale is aware of the enormity of the task he and his teammates face against the Serie A champions.

"We are all hugely excited about the first game on tour", Gatland said.

Their last provincial loss was at the hands of Waikato in 1993, a match in which Lions coach Warren Gatland scored a try.

Farrell, though, is much more than a trusty boot and his link play with his fellow three-quarters - whoever they may be - as well as his tactical kicking game will be crucial to ensuring the Lions play in the right areas of the field.

The Lions will play 10 matches on the tour - including three Test matches against the world No 1 team, the All Blacks.

The British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand starts on June 3, exclusively on Sky Sports.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has suggested he would not countenance the Lions' quick turnaround of landing on Wednesday than playing on Saturday. The battle for supremacy in the second row will be key to the outcome of the Test series. "It was quite amusing last week when I asked to speak to the 10s at the end of training", revealed Gatland.

"We can have one player who does something special, so as coaches we have to give them the freedom to go out there and play what is in front of them and be able to express themselves".

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