Gatland Junior expected to line out against his father's Lions team on Saturday

Gatland Junior expected to line out against his father's Lions team on Saturday

Bryn Gatland will show no fear in spearheading the initial assault against a British and Irish Lions team coached by his own father, according to Sam Warburton.

Gatland Junior is likely to line up at fly-half when the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians become the Lions' first opponents of the 2017 tour on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Blues playmaker has forced a Super Rugby breakthrough this term - and will now go head-to-head with father and Lions boss Warren Gatland.

Lions captain Warburton revealed his friendship with Bryn Gatland already charts back seven years, when the youngster was drawn into kicking sessions in the Wales squads run by his dad.

Gatland Junior expected to line out against his father's Lions team on Saturday

"I've known Bryn now for years," said Warburton.

"He was coming in to kick with the Wales squad six, seven years ago.

"The Welsh lads know him well, so I'm looking forward to coming up against him and shaking hands after the game.

"He's shown a lot of courage in the past and will definitely do the same again now."

Gatland's son slotted the winning drop-goal in a 17-14 victory over Otago in October that saw North Harbour promoted to the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership.

The increasingly-composed fly-half attended Hamilton Boys' High School just like his father, and has now started to make his mark with the Blues.

Warburton hailed Bryn Gatland's nerve for landing that pressure drop-goal last year, and insisted the Lions can expect more of the same in Saturday's tour opener in Whangarei.

"I saw Bryn play last year as well as this," said Warburton.

"I thought he showed a lot of courage for that drop-goal last year to win.

"You have to give him a lot of credit for that.

"He's in a good bloodline as well and has a lot of potential.

"It's a great achievement for him to be in this position."

Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw hailed a moment of intense pride for the whole Gatland family, but insisted Lions boss Warren would not let his professional gaze slip.

"We've watched a little bit of him play, we've been doing our homework," said Laidlaw of Gatland's son.

"Clearly that's stranger for Warren than it is for us as players.

"But he's come in and played a few Super Rugby games this season and played well.

"He'll be among a group of players looking for their best game against us this weekend.

"I'm sure there will be big family pride there.

"I'm sure he'll be absolutely delighted for his son, but with his professional hat on, all he'll want is to win the game."

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