Belfast Telegraph

Ulster's trio of Lions fail to make cut for first test against All Blacks

By Adam McKendry

Ulster's trio of Lions have not made the cut for the first Test against the All Blacks this Saturday at Eden Park (kick-off 8:35am).

Lock Iain Henderson is probably the most unfortunate to miss out having impressed in his three outings so far on tour, however his versatility doesn't grant him a spot in the Test 23.

Hooker Rory Best is overlooked, with head coach Warren Gatland opting to give Jamie George a start and putting Welshman Ken Owens on the bench, while there's no room for Jared Payne in the backline.

There are four Irishmen named in the starting line-up, with Munster's Peter O'Mahony captaining the side from blindside flanker with Sam Warburton named on the bench.

O'Mahony is joined in the starting line-up by Munster team-mate Conor Murray and Leinster duo Tadhg Furlong and Sean O'Brien, while Jack McGrath and Jonathan Sexton have to make do with bench spots.

Sexton had been dueling with Owen Farrell for the starting fly-half jersey, with there being the possibility of shifting the Saracens man to inside centre to accommodate both, but Gatland has opted instead for the Englishman.

Gatland has thrown a few surprises into his starting line-up, with Liam Williams given the start over Leigh Halfpenny at full-back, Elliot Daly named on the wing and Alun-Wyn Jones starting in the second row.

In all there are four Welshmen in his starting XV, in-form Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies and bruising Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau joining Williams and Jones, with Owens, Warburton, Halfpenny and Rhys Webb all on the bench.

England are the best represented nation with nine in the squad - Anthony Watson, Ben Te'o, Mako Vunipola and George Kruis all start alongside Daly, Farrell and George, with Kyle Sinckler and Maro Itoje benching.

Scotland have no representatives in the 23-man squad.

LIONS: L Williams; A Watson, J Davies, B Te'o, E Daly; O Farrell, C Murray; M Vunipola, J George, T Furlong; A-W Jones, G Kruis; P O'Mahony (captain), S O'Brien, T Faletau. Replacements: K Owens, J McGrath, K Sinckler, M Itoje, S Warburton, R Webb, J Sexton, L Halfpenny.

ALL BLACKS: B Smith; I Dagg, R Crotty, S B Williams, R Ioane; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, C Taylor, O Franks; B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, S Cane, K Read (captain).

Replacements: N Harris, W Crockett, C Faumuina, S Barrett, A Savea, T Perenara, A Cruden/L Sopoaga, A Lienert-Brown.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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