Peter O'Mahony may lead Lions in first Test against All Blacks

Ross Houston
June 20, 2017

Kieran Read will be fit to captain New Zealand in Saturday's first Test against the British & Irish Lions. "Finalising what we want in the second row and in the back row".

Alun Wyn Jones, who captained the Lions in their third Test against Australia in their last tour when Warburton was ruled out through injury, also looks unlikely to start Saturday's match, meaning Gatland will have to select a new captain for the game, with Munster's Peter O'Mahony emerging as the frontrunner.

"I think so. More than most have, really".

Whichever team is able to make the most of their scoring opportunities in open play is going to be hard to beat. The guys who have captained so far have realised they don't have to be vocal all the time because there are always people helping them out.

Sarcastic barbs have again been fired towards the British and Irish Lions in an All Blacks press conference in what is the latest episode of mind games between Warren Gatland and the All Blacks camp.

"If you look at them, they're probably some of the most in-form loose forwards over the last couple of years", Kaino said. He's a quiet man but when he speaks people listen. I think it is fantastic for everyone on the outside, but players don't feel it or are aware of it.

Gatland made clear when he appointed Warburton as tour skipper that it did not necessarily guarantee the Welshman a starting Test place.

"Four days out from a Test match, it's unlikely I'm going to be in the starting XV".

The same fixture four years ago saw a pieced-together Lions squad - one that featured an aging Shane Williams and the English trio of Brad Barritt, Christian Wade and Billy Twelvetrees once they had been flown in from the other side of the world - come unstuck against the Brumbies, only for the Test team to go on and beat the Wallabies in the first Test at the end of the week. Leigh Halfpenny, meanwhile, is continuing to go through the required return-to-play protocols after taking a bang to the head against the Maori but Farrell insists the Wales full-back remains on course to face the All Blacks.

Steve Hansen is wasting his time trying to wind up the Lions ahead of Saturday's opening Test, Andy Farrell says.

He says a number of combinations still need to be settled for Saturday's All Black test and he's picking a competitive edge to his mid-week players tonight. "And Owen seems to be all good, that seems to have settled down".

A stellar rugby presenting line-up are bringing you brilliant coverage of the tour, with a punditry team boasting almost 350 global caps and 15 Lions appearances between them.

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