Wyn Jones to lead revamped Lions v Crusaders

Alun-Wyn Jones (AFP)
Alun-Wyn Jones (AFP)

Christchurch - Alun Wyn Jones will be the British and Irish Lions third captain in as many matches after coach Warren Gatland rang the changes for Saturday's clash against a Crusaders side bristling with All Blacks.

Gatland revamped the entire starting XV that suffered a shock loss to the Blues as the tourists look to bounce back against New Zealand's strongest Super Rugby team.

Lock Wyn Jones, the Wales skipper, takes over the captain's duties from compatriot Ken Owens for a match seen as a must-win for the tourists.

Scrumhalf Conor Murray makes his first appearance of the tour and is partnered by flyhalf Owen Farrell, who gets his first start after a cameo off the bench in the tour opener against the Provincial Barbarians.

Centre Jonathan Davies and wing George North also make their first appearances in New Zealand, along with flank Sean O'Brien.

"The aim was always to start everyone in the first three matches and this selection ensures that we achieve this," Gatland said.

"This is an experienced team with nine of the starting 15 players having featured in 2013 (Lions series win in Australia)."

He said the Lions, who were sluggish in their first match and poorly disciplined in their second, were getting better.

"Our squad is working hard and we are seeing improvement in their performances both at training and in the games," he said.

The Lions forwards were dominant against the Blues but will face an All Blacks tight five against the Crusaders comprising Joe Moody, Owen Franks and Codie Taylor, along with locks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano.

Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree said the Crusaders - undefeated this season - had the best pack in the Super Rugby competition.

"It's going to take a huge performance from our forward pack to better this outfit but I fully expect us to," he said.

In all, the Crusaders squad contains nine All Blacks, making Saturday's match a dress rehearsal for the first Test on June 24.

Israel Dagg, included in the 33-man New Zealand Test squad to face Samoa and the Lions announced earlier on Thursday, will start at fullback.

Adding to the Crusaders depth is eight-Test flank Matt Todd, who is on standby as injury cover for the Lions series, and three-Test wing Seta Tamanivalu who missed the cut this year.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson predicted a "fantastic clash".

"This is a huge and exciting challenge for us," he said.

"We are facing some of the best rugby players in the world, but we have some of the world's best in this team too, so it will be a fantastic clash.

"No matter how it unfolds, this will be a game that the players involved will remember as one of the special moments in their careers."



15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Tim Bateman

British & Irish Lions

15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/SCO), 14 George North (Northampton/WAL), 13 Jonathan Davies (Scarlets/WAL), 12 Ben Te'o (Worcester/ENG), 11 Liam Williams (Scarlets/WAL), 10 Owen Farrell (Saracens/ENG), 9 Conor Murray (Munster/IRE), 8 Taulupe Faletau (Bath/WAL), 7 Sean O'Brien (Leinster/IRE), 6 Peter O'Mahony (Munster/IRE), 5 George Kruis (Saracens/ENG), 4 Alun Wyn Jones (captain, Ospreys/WAL), 3 Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/IRE), 2 Jamie George (Saracens/ENG), 1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens/ENG)

Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens (Scarlets/WAL), 17 Jack McGrath (Leinster/IRE), 18 Dan Cole (Leicester/ENG), 19 Maro Itoje (Saracens/ENG), 20 CJ Stander (Munster/IRE), 21 Rhys Webb (Ospreys/WAL), 22 Johnny Sexton (Leinster/IRE), 23 Anthony Watson (Bath/ENG)

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