Lions unchanged for All Blacks decider

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Warren Gatland has kept faith with the 23 players who helped bring the British and Irish Lions back into the series with New Zealand for Saturday's decider in Auckland.

After being comfortably beaten in the first Test, Gatland made changes for the second match and it brought the desired result as the tourists recorded a 24-21 win.

And they will all get the chance to finish the job at Eden Park after the Lions coach named an unchanged squad.

That means Sam Warburton will again lead the Lions, with Maro Itoje and Alun Wyn Jones set to renew their outstanding partnership in the second row.

"It is not very often on a Lions Tour that you get to pick the same 23 for the following game," said Gatland.

"We felt we should reward the players for the result and the courage that they showed in coming from behind from 18-9 down, digging themselves out of a hole and then finishing strongly in that last 10 to 15 minutes.

"There are some players who are pretty disappointed not to be selected and I understand that. It is what you would expect from competitive top athletes, they back themselves.

"But we have stressed all along that this is not all about the 23 players but about everyone in the squad - they have put their disappointment behind them and are helping the matchday squad prepare the best they can for the Test match.

"We are all aware of how big this game is and we are expecting a backlash from the All Blacks. But the pleasing thing about the second Test is just how strong we were in the last 10 or 15 minutes, in terms of energy and enthusiasm so we still feel there is another level in us.

"This is a huge chance for this group of players to show their abilities and reap the benefits of the work everyone has put in. It is their chance to make Lions history."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen opted to make three changes to his side with Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape making their first starts at full-back and centre respectively while try machine Julian Savea returns on the wing.

 

British and Irish Lions: Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Davies, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton, Sean O'Brien, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander, Rhys Webb, Ben Te'o, Jack Nowell.