Warburton to lead Lions in opener

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Captain Sam Warburton has been named in the British and Irish Lions side that will take on the Provincial Barbarians in the first match of their tour to New Zealand on Saturday.

Warburton helms a side that includes other likely Test starters such as Jonathan Sexton and Stuart Hogg, but also sees the likes of Kyle Sinckler and Tommy Seymour offered the chance to shine.

The former Wales skipper had asked to be involved after being made to wait until the third match of the 2013 tour to make his bow - the last player in the squad to get game time on that occasion.

Lingering concerns over a knee injury had cast doubt over his involvement but the Cardiff Blues flanker is set to play for the first time since early April in Whangarei this weekend.

Along with Sinckler, Rory Best is flanked by another Englishman, Joe Marler, in the front row, with Alun Wyn Jones and Iain Henderson selected at lock.

Ross Moriarty - predominantly utilised as a number eight for Wales during the Six Nations - is deployed at flanker in an all-Welsh back row that also features Warburton and Taulupe Faletau.

Sexton and late call-up Greig Laidlaw form Warren Gatland's half-back pairing, while centres Ben Te'o and Jonathan Joseph, as well as winger Anthony Watson, ensure a strong English representation among the backs.

The selection of Seymour and Hogg means all three of the touring Scots will start the opening match.

"You're always excited about the first game on tour. A bit apprehensive, but it's a great opportunity for the starting XV and the 23 to lay down a marker in terms of getting the tour off to a good start," said Gatland.

"The team that was selected was... players who were together for the first week in Wales and then we had another group that came for the week in Dublin as well. It was an opportunity for the combinations to work together for a couple of weeks and to prepare for their first game.

"There's some real experience there with Rory Best, Alun Wyn Jones and Johnny Sexton, and then there's Sam Warburton obviously as captain.

"There's a big responsibility on the experienced players and also the younger players to get the tour off to a good start."

 

Lions XV: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Ben Te'o, Tommy Seymour, Jonathan Sexton, Greig Laidlaw; Joe Marler, Rory Best, Kyle Sinckler, Alun Wyn Jones, Iain Henderson, Ross Moriarty, Sam Warburton (captain), Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Tadhg Furlong, George Kruis, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb, Owen Farrell, Jared Payne.