Piri looks to make Lions Weep again

WELLINGTON scrum half Piri Weepu will face the British and Irish Lions for the second time in five days believing the Maori’s victory can help his provincial side.

Weepu saw at first hand the problems the Lions were encountering around the tackle area on Saturday.

Though it is a vastly different side he will face tomorrow morning, he believes his Wellington team-mates can exploit those problems at the Westpac Stadium (8.10am, Sky Sports 1).

“Their weaknesses are around their clean out at either ruck or maul and things like that so hopefully we can still attack them in that area and see if they’re still vulnerable.”

Coach Clive Woodward implied that tour results do not matter in the wake of the Lions’ defeat but anything other than a convincing win in the capital city tomorrow will be unsatisfactory for the management team.

The Lions’ strongest back division has been selected and while the pack lacks the bulk and size of that selected to face the Maori, Woodward will be looking intently at the forwards’ speed of thought and body at the breakdown as they bid to overcome those problems.

Simon Easterby makes his first start of the tour since joining the squad as a replacement for Lawrence Dallaglio.

The Llanelli and Ireland flanker plays at blindside, opposite Neil Back, with Martin Corry at No.8. Back’s return from suspension comes at a vital stage of the tour with this game being characterised as “make or break” by Woodward and captain Brian O’Driscoll.

Back is a much needed old head, who Woodward will be relying on to steady the ship.

In the tight five, Shane Byrne has a genuine chance to stake a claim to the Test hooking role in the wake of disappointing performances from his rivals Gordon Bulloch, Andy Titterrell and Steve Thompson.

He has two dependable props alongside him in Gethin Jenkins and Julian White while Ben Kay and Danny Grewcock form an all-English second row.

All Kiwi eyes though will be on the tour debut of fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who teams up with Dwayne Peel in the half-backs.

Gavin Henson renews his midfield partnership from the game against Bay Of Plenty with outside centre O’Driscoll while the back three sees Josh Lewsey at full-back along with Gareth Thomas and Jason Robinson on the wings in their first games following their late arrivals.

They will face a Wellington side missing all but one of its current All Black stars who have helped make it one of the major forces in New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship.

Tana Umaga, Conrad Smith, Jerry Collins and Rodney So’oialo will all miss out but Ma’a Nonu will take his place at outside centre.

Like Weepu, Maori lock Ross Filipo renews his contest with the Lions, while Wellington coach John Plumtree said he was happy with the players that overcame second division Hawkes Bay earlier this month, his side’s only warm-up match ahead of this encounter.

Jimmy Gopperth starts at fly-half, fresh off a strong showing in his debut season for the Hurricanes in this year’s Super 12, a campaign that earned him selection to the All Blacks trial 10 days ago.

Meanwhile, Wales back row forward Ryan Jones has arrived in New Zealand. “I’m not here to make up the numbers,” Jones insisted, but winning a place in the Test 22 at this stage would cap a remarkable year for the 24-year-old, who this time last year was facing the dole following the scrapping of the Warriors team in Wales.

WELLINGTON: S Paku, L Fa’atau, M Nonu, T Tu’ipulotu, R Kinikinilau, J Gopperth, P Weepu; J McDonnell (capt), M Schwalger, T Fairbrother, L Andrews, R Filipo, K Ormsby, B Herring, T Waldrom.

Replacements: L Mahoney, J Schwalger, K Thompson, J Purdie, R Flutey, T Ellison, C Jane.

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: J Lewsey (England), G Thomas (Wales), B O’Driscoll (Ireland), G Henson (Wales), J Robinson (England), J Wilkinson (England), D Peel (Wales); G Jenkins (Wales), S Byrne (Ireland), J White (England), B Kay (England), D Grewcock (England), S Easterby (Ireland), N Back (England), M Corry (England).

Replacements: G Bulloch (Scotland), M Stevens (England), P O’Connell (Ireland), L Moody (England), C Cusiter (Scotland), S Jones (Wales), S Horgan (Ireland).

More in this section

CourtsRugbyPlace: WellingtonPlace: Westpac StadiumPlace: New ZealandPlace: WalesPlace: EnglandPlace: IrelandPlace: ScotlandPerson: PiriPerson: Piri WeepuPerson: WeepuPerson: Clive WoodwardPerson: MaoriPerson: WoodwardPerson: Simon EasterbyPerson: Lawrence DallaglioPerson: Neil BackPerson: Martin CorryPerson: BACKPerson: Brian O’DriscollPerson: Shane ByrnePerson: Gordon BullochPerson: Andy TitterrellPerson: Steve ThompsonPerson: Gethin JenkinsPerson: Julian WhitePerson: Ben KayPerson: Danny GrewcockPerson: Jonny WilkinsonPerson: Dwayne PeelPerson: Gavin HensonPerson: O’DriscollPerson: Josh LewseyPerson: Gareth ThomasPerson: Jason RobinsonPerson: Tana UmagaPerson: Conrad SmithPerson: Jerry CollinsPerson: Rodney So’oialoPerson: Ma’a NonuPerson: Ross FilipoPerson: John PlumtreePerson: Jimmy GopperthPerson: Ryan JonesPerson: JonesPerson: S PakuPerson: L Fa’atauPerson: M NonuPerson: T Tu’ipulotuPerson: R KinikinilauPerson: J GopperthPerson: P WeepuPerson: J McDonnellPerson: M SchwalgerPerson: T FairbrotherPerson: L AndrewsPerson: R FilipoPerson: K OrmsbyPerson: B HerringPerson: T WaldromPerson: L MahoneyPerson: J SchwalgerPerson: K ThompsonPerson: J PurdiePerson: R FluteyPerson: T EllisonPerson: C JanePerson: BritishPerson: IRISH LIONSPerson: J LewseyPerson: G ThomasPerson: B O’DriscollPerson: G HensonPerson: J RobinsonPerson: J WilkinsonPerson: D PeelPerson: G JenkinsPerson: S ByrnePerson: J WhitePerson: B KayPerson: D GrewcockPerson: S EasterbyPerson: N BackPerson: M CorryPerson: G BullochPerson: M StevensPerson: P O’ConnellPerson: L MoodyPerson: C CusiterPerson: S JonesPerson: S HorganOrganisation: LionsOrganisation: Irish LionsOrganisation: Lions’Organisation: LlanelliOrganisation: Bay of PlentyOrganisation: WellingtonOrganisation: HurricanesOrganisation: All BlacksOrganisation: Warriors
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