Munster's Peter O'Mahony to captain Lions against All-Blacks

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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Munster's Peter O'Mahony to captain Lions against All-Blacks

Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony, centre, will captain the Lions against the All-Blacks on Saturday

MUNSTER skipper Peter O’Mahony will captain the Lions against New Zealand in the first Test at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday, 8.35am Irish time.

The Munster flanker is one of four Ireland internationals named in Warren Gatland’s starting XV for the first of three Tests. 

Joining O’Mahony in the pack is prop Tadhg Furlong and back row Sean O’Brien, both Leinster, while Munster man Conor Murray starts at scrum-half.

Ireland out-half Johnny Sexton has been named on the bench with England’s Owen Farrell getting the nod to start at out-half having shaken off a quad injury.

O'Mahony, led the Lions in the victory over the Maori All Blacks, last weekend.

Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said: "We have picked a side based on form with a lot of players putting their hands up, especially from the Crusaders and Maori All Blacks games, and it was a lively selection meeting. The win against the Chiefs was also extremely important for the squad and some players played themselves into the side. 

"We have continuously been strong at set piece and have been good defensively in the last two or three outings. But to beat the All Blacks you have to be courageous and play some rugby - you have to score tries and I think we have picked a team capable of doing that.”

The pack is retained from the Crusaders victory, including the back row of O'Mahony, O'Brien and Taulupe Faletau and Gatland added: "It's a reward for how the back row has gone. There is a nice balance there while Peter captained the side against the Maori All Blacks and has done a good job.”

There are seven Test Lions in the starting XV with three more on the bench in a match day squad combining experience and form.

Liam Williams is selected at fullback and Elliot Daly on the wing following the four-try victory against the Chiefs on Tuesday and Gatland added: "Elliot has been very accurate in the way he has played and we saw some excellent attacking play from Liam on Tuesday night. We are excited about the 15 that take the field but also the very strong and experienced bench players who will have an impact.”

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Davies, Ben Te’o, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, Conor Murray, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Tadhg Furlong, Alun Wyn Jones, George Kruis, Peter O’Mahony (Capt), Sean O’Brien, Taulupe Faletau. Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Sam Warburton, Rhys Webb, Jonathan Sexton, Leigh Halfpenny.

NEW ZEALAND: 15-Ben Smith, 14-Israel Dagg, 13-Ryan Crotty, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Rieko Ioane, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-Aaron Smith, 8-Kieran Read (captain), 7-Sam Cane, 6-Jerome Kaino, 5-Sam Whitelock, 4-Brodie Retallick, 3-Owen Franks, 2-Codie Taylor, 1-Joe Moody. Replacements: 16-Nathan Harris, 17-Wyatt Crockett, 18-Charlie Faumuina, 19-Scott Barrett, 20-Ardie Savea, 21-TJ Perenara, 22-Aaron Cruden/Lima Sopoaga, 23-Anton Lienert-Brown