Four years of waiting, and we’re finally here. The British and Irish Lions have touched down, and Warren Gatland has named his 23-man squad to take on the Provincial Barbarians at Toll Stadium, Whangarei.
With the likes of Jack Nowell, Elliot Daly and James Haskell all taking part in the Aviva Premiership final, the Wasps and Chiefs stars are not involved in the match day squad.
Captain, Sam Warburton, starts in an all Welsh back row, whilst all three Scottish call ups get the nod to start the game.
— British&Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) May 31, 2017
In what is a strong starting line-up, with eight potential test starters in the side, the Northern Hemisphere side should feel confident going into Saturday’s fixture against the Provincial Barbarians.
It’s a big honour and chance for Harlequins prop, Kyle Sinckler – who is yet to start a test game for England – to stake a claim in the front row; having the experience of Rory Best alongside the youngster will prove vitally important.
Who are the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians?
Probably the most unfamiliar side to Northern Hemisphere fans. The team was put together in 1937, where it formed of ex-professionals, and encouraging young stars; the New Zealand Barbarians.
They got their name from the original Barbarians – England – and played their first game in Auckland under this name in 1938.
They were then formed into the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians at the request of the Lions; a one off team made up of players who play in the Mitre 10 Cup and Heartland rugby provincial competitions.
They play a few domestic games, against teams such as the New Zealand Maori side – where they have lost the previous two fixtures.
However, they have had some noticeable All Blacks representing them in their traditional red colours; players such as Ben Smith and Colin Slade have both played for the New Zealand BaaBaas.
A recognisable face who will be stepping out agains the Lions this coming Saturday, is Warren Gatland’s son, Bryn, who plays at fly-half.
In short, this should be a good game to start the summer tour, with the Lions facing one of the weaker opposition, and hopefully a successful result will follow.