Simon Lewis, Wellington
Warren Gatland has signalled changes ahead for the British & Irish Lions' must-win second Test against the All Blacks next Saturday with his team selection for Tuesday's tour game against the Hurricanes.
The Lions arrived in New Zealand's capital city on Sunday licking their wounds after a 30-15 humbling by the world champions at Eden Park, Auckland the previous night. After the forwards lost the physical battle in the set-piece and up front at the breakdown to a dominant All Blacks pack, the tourists' starting first Test lock George Kruis has been named on the bench for the Lions' final midweek game of the 2017 tour against the reigning Super Rugby champions.
And with head coach Gatland having promoted backs Liam Williams and Elliot Daly to the Test team last week on the back of strong performances against last Tuesday's opponents the Chiefs, the message that there is plenty to play for in Wellington, not least for second rowers Courtney Lawes and Iain Henderson.
The Lions' Test lock pairing of Kruis and Alun Wyn Jones failed to fire at Eden Park as their opposite numbers Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock ruled the roost and both England's Lawes and Irishman Henderson will fancy their chances of earning a Test place next weekend in a game that must be won if the series is to stay alive for the visitors.
“We are obviously hugely disappointed with the result last night but it is important to regroup,” Gatland said. “We know there are a lot of players motivated to go out and get a result for the whole group.
“A few players put their hands up for selection from the Chiefs game and played their way into the Test team so they know that there is another opportunity for them on Tuesday against the Super Rugby champions.”
Henderson and Lawes feature in an unchanged pack from last week's 34-6 victory over the Chiefs in Hamilton with Ireland captain Rory Best once again named to lead the side from hooker, packing down with props Joe Marler and Dan Cole.
With a call from many observers for changes to the Test back row, tour captain Sam Warburton has once again been kept out of the midweek fray despite only coming off the bench in Auckland on Saturday. Munster and Ireland back rower CJ Stander starts at No.8 alongside flankers James Haskell and Justin Tipuric.
Behind the scrum, Greig Laidlaw and Dan Biggar continue in the half-backs while Robbie Henshaw partners Jonathan Joseph in midfield, outside centre Joseph having been considered unlucky to have missed out on a place in the opening Test 23.
There are changes from the Chiefs game in the Lions back three with Jack Nowell, a two-try scorer from the wing in Hamilton, moved to full-back with George North making his first midweek start on the left wing and Tommy Seymour on the right.
The bench once again features the six recent call-ups from Scotland and Wales, with the exception of Kruis and Jared Payne, who started against the Chiefs at outside centre.
The Hurricanes have been boosted by the release from the All Blacks quartet Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape and Vaea Fifita to face the Lions. The Super Rugby champions will be missing Test half-backs TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett but the fly-half's brother Jordie starts at full back in a powerful back three also featuring All Blacks wings Nehe Milner-Skudder and Savea.
HURRICANES: J Barrett; N Milner-Skudder, V Aso, N Laumape, J Savea; O Black, T T Tahuriorangi; B May, R Riccitelli, J To'omaga-Allen; M Abbott, S Lousi; V Fifita, C Gibbins, B Shields – captain.
Replacements: L Apisai, C Eves, M Kainga, J Blackwell, R Prinsep, K Hauiti-Parapara, W Goosen, C Jane.
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS (v Hurricanes): J Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, England); T Seymour (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland), J Joseph (Bath, England), R Henshaw (Leinster, Ireland), G North (Northampton Saints, Wales); D Biggar (Ospreys, Wales), G Laidlaw (Gloucester, Scotland); J Marler (Harlequins, England, R Best (Ulster, Ireland) - captain, D Cole (Leicester Tigers, England; I Henderson (Ulster, Ireland), C Lawes (Northampton Saints, England); J Haskell (Wasps, England), J Tipuric (Ospreys, Wales), CJ Stander (Munster, Ireland).
Replacements: K Dacey (Cardiff Blues, Wales), A Dell (Edinburgh, Scotland), T Francis (Exeter Chiefs, Wales), C Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons, Wales), G Kruis (Saracens, England), G Davies (Scarlets, Wales), F Russell (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland), J Payne (Ulster, Ireland).