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The Lions have sort of been bouncing along below our radar but you can’t really ignore them any longer once they start picking mouthwatering teams – oh the possibilities if these players click. Just look at that subs bench!

Anyway, the good news is that Rory Best and Iain Henderson start with Jared Payne benching – looks like it’s a straight head to head between him and Hogg for that Lions full-back berth. To tell the truth you wouldn’t be unhappy with either.

The Ulster contingent is joined by Leinster’s Johnny Sexton and Tadgh Furlong in the 23 man squad but bear in mind that this is just a first look and it’s expected that all the tourists will get a game over the first three matches

At the moment there are wonderful possibilities all over the pitch for the Lions, but it could, just as easily, go pear-shaped. It’s not so much if they win or lose but how they play in these early games but I’d say that they will have to put down some sort of marker early on if they are to get the sniping home supporters of their backs.

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
v
New Zealand Provincial Barbarians
Whangarei, Saturday 3rd June KO 08:35 UK/IRE

1 Joe Marler – Harlequins, England
2 Rory Best – Ulster, Ireland, #793
3 Kyle Sinckler – Harlequins, England
4 Alun Wyn Jones – Ospreys, Wales, #761
5 Iain Henderson – Ulster, Ireland
6 Ross Moriarty – Gloucester Rugby, Wales
7 Sam Warburton – Cardiff Blues, Wales, #800
8 Taulupe Faletau – Bath Rugby, Wales, #779

9 Greig Laidlaw – Gloucester Rugby, Scotland
10 Johnny Sexton – Leinster, Ireland, #791
11 Tommy Seymour – Glasgow Warriors, Scotland
12 Ben Te’o – Worcester Warriors, England
13 Jonathan Joseph – Bath Rugby, England
14 Anthony Watson – Bath Rugby, England
15 Stuart Hogg – Glasgow Warriors, Scotland, #783

Replacements
16 Jamie George – Saracens, England
17 Mako Vunipola – Saracens, England, #787
18 Tadhg Furlong – Leinster, Ireland
19 George Kruis – Saracens, England
20 Justin Tipuric – Ospreys, Wales, #786
21 Rhys Webb – Ospreys, Wales
22 Owen Farrell – Saracens, England, #780
23 Jared Payne – Ulster, Ireland

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