Munster and Ireland's Conor Murray
MUNSTER’S Conor Murray has been named in Warren Gatland’s Lions starting XV for the third and deciding test against New Zealand this Saturday morning. (Sky Sports 1 8.35am Irish Time) Fellow Munster star CJ Stander is once more on the bench.
The Garryowen club man will now have started all three tests even though there was some doubts surrounding his inclusion due to a hand injury he picked up earlier in the tour.
Gatland has made no changes to the side that levelled the series. Gatland admitted the selection was based on rewarding those who had fought back so well in the second test. He admitted that the players had enjoyed their days off this week, but were now ready to focus on the job at hand.
Meanwhile All Black head coach Steve Hansen has opted to name 20-year-old outside back Jordie Barrett at full back while Ngani Laumape replaces Sonny Bill Williams, who was suspended for four weeks following his red card in last weekend’s second Test, at inside centre.
Israel Dagg moves to the right wing while on the left, Julian Savea comes in to replace Rieko Ioane, with Malakai Fekitoa, who was only recently called up to the All Blacks squad, is part of the matchday squad as midfield cover.
“This final match is going to be a cracker,” said New Zealand chief Hansen.
“It’s the series we expected it to be as the Lions have quality players. It now comes down to this Saturday – the winner takes all – and that’ll create its own unique pressures, and it’s going to be interesting to see how both sides cope with it.
“We’ve had a good week of preparation and are very excited by the opportunity that’s ahead of us, and I’m sure the Lions are as well.
“We know it’ll be a physical and intense match, but just as importantly, it’ll be a game where both teams will have moments of momentum, and the ability of everyone to adapt and adjust throughout the 80 minutes will be crucial.”
Lions Team : Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Davies, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton, Sean O'Brien, Toby Faletau. Subs: Ken Owens, Jack Mc Grath, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander, Rhyss Webb, Ben Te'o, Jack Nowell.
New Zealand team to face the Lions: 1. Joe Moody, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Sam Cane, 8. Kieran Read (capt), 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Julian Savea, 12. Ngani Laumape, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 14. Israel Dagg, 15. Jordie Barrett. Replacements : 16. Nathan Harris, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19. Scott Barrett, 20. Ardie Savea, 21. TJ Perenara 22. Aaron Cruden, 23. Malakai Fekitoa