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All Blacks aim big guns at Samoa

All Blacks aim big guns at Samoa

All Blacks aim big guns at Samoa

The Wales coach and the Lions generally have learned from Sir Clive Woodward's error in New Zealand in 2005 of running a Test squad and midweek group, both with differing agendas. One which divides Warren Gatland's panel of players into two clear groups - the midweek side and the weekend side.

Getting in the faces of New Zealand teams and smashing them early is the key for the British and Irish Lions' success according to the Manawatu Turbos' resident Irishman Harrison Brewer.

The match will be a milestone for first five-eighth Beauden Barrett, who will run out in his 50th test, while midfielder Sonny Bill Williams returns in his first game since the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham. Though, that is something which he chose no to do following the tour-ending injury to Stuart Hogg.

Ireland flanker Peter O'Mahony takes the armband on Saturday and Gatland insists it remains down to Warburton to force his way into a back row that has impressed so far Down Under.

"They've got a certain way they're going to play I think when the tests come".

Hansen followed that up with what appeared to be a little dig at the number of southern hemisphere born players in the Lions squad.

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Fullback Ben Smith is to lead the side in place of Read, while Aaron Smith, who went through a form lapse a year ago, has been restored as the first-choice scrumhalf.

The 33-year-old Messam, a 12-time Maori All Black and 45-Test stalwart, has been named at No.8 for the clash in Rotorua tomorrow night, part of a fearsome loose forward unit including Elliot Dixon and All Blacks ring-in Akira Ioane. "You just think 'How can I defend that?'".

Manu Samoa will hope to ask a few questions of the All Blacks tonight and answer a few questions of themselves. "I can't say it'd be any more special than playing the Springboks or Wallabies or anyone else, so if I get that opportunity I'd be very happy and proud of the achievement - but I can't say it'd mean anything more than a rugby game".

Farrell will have one more chance to prove his fitness before the opening Test against the All Blacks with the Lions set to take on the Chiefs in Hamilton on Tuesday 20 June. This is my third game I have been involved and this is my opportunity.

This week's episode of The Hard Yards sees Stephen Ferris, Kev McLaughlin, Kiwi rugby writer Hamish Bidwell, Ladbrokes' Andy Wildig and host Andy McGeady discussing the underwhelming start to the Lions Tour and New Zealand's relationship with prodigal son Warren Gatland.

"Obviously losing the experience that both these players bring is crucial and David's leadership will be missed", coach Alama Ieremia said.

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