Irish players named in first Lions team

Central to that will be Bryn Gatland, Warren's son and the Barbarians' fly-half; but this is not a selection based on sentiment.

Lions captain Sam Warburton signs autographs at Auckland airport on Wednesday.

"There's some real experience there with Rory Best, Alun Wyn Jones and Johnny Sexton, and then there's Sam Warburton obviously as captain".

'I think we've got some players at the moment who aren't known here, but they've got some X-factor, ' he said.

Tattooed Maori warriors performed a haka to greet the composite team of elite players from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, marking the start of the almost six-week tour.

Gatland added, "It's important that these guys know they are in the shop window and they have a chance to go out and prove themselves, and with a little bit of luck they will put themselves in contention for the Tests".

Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler is yet to start a match for England across his eight Test caps, but has now claimed the first Lions starting shirt available on the New Zealand tour.

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LOVE has created a Make Them See Red campaign for Canterbury to mark the start of the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

The current tour is something of a break from tradition for the Lions, who have played nearly exclusively against New Zealand's provincial teams on previous visits.

The Lions head coach believes that some of his less heralded players could surprise the Kiwis in the coming weeks.

He is one eight brothers, who played rugby, hurling and football at various levels for Portlaoise, Laois and Ireland.

The absence of Billy Vunipola on the tour has made Faletau integral to the Lions' hopes of winning the Test series.

"And Eddie can say what he likes, because he's not sat in the hot seat is he?"

"The Lions must go for the heart of the All Blacks and target Barrett", he told The Sun.

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The programme has been developed in collaboration with the Four Home Unions with the aim of using the Lions brand to inspire a future generation of rugby players and to help retain existing youth players in the game. "What we lack for in time, we'll make up for in energy and enthusiasm".

"You look at what we're up against - two times world champions in the Tests and a host of quality Super Rugby franchises on the way so it's going to have to be".

"There are so many Lions in contention you would struggle to name 10 who are definitely going to be in the Test side, which is good".

"There's a big responsibility on the experienced players and also the younger players to get the tour off to a good start".

He said he expected to be in a position to give an indication of his test lineup by the June 17 match against the New Zealand Maori.

Laidlaw himself insisted however that he remains intent on proving his full worth to the Lions with the tour yet to hit full swing. I think New Zealand has woken up, as I have.

"So that's very much what I'll be doing". When I got the phone call I was so shocked.

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