Published: 16:34 | 5/6/17

Four Irishmen to start for Lions v Blues

Eight Irishmen have been included in the Lions side to face the Blues on Wednesday in the second match of their tour of New Zealand, with four of those in the starting lineup.

Ireland’s midfield duo of Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne will reprise their roles at 12 and 13 fo the Lions. In the pack, Jack McGrath starts in the tighthead jersey, with CJ Stander filling the No 8 shirt.

On the bench, Rory Best, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony and Johnny Sexton have all been included.

Scarlets’ Ken Owens will captain the Lions on his first appearance for the touring side, in a team that is totally changed from the one that scraped past the Provincial Barbarians on Saturday. Of the starters in the team, just four have played for the Lions before in Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb, Dan Cole and Justin Tipuric.

Warren Gatland has spoken of his desire to give every player a start in the first three matches of the tour and his rotation selection-policy is very much in evidence at this juncture.

The full Lions side to face the Blues is as follows:

15 Leigh Halfpenny 14 Jack Nowell 13 Jared Payne 12 Robbie Henshaw 11 Elliot Daly 10 Dan Biggar 9 Rhys Webb 1 Jack McGrath 2 Ken Owens 3 Dan Cole 4 Maro Itoje 5 Courtney Lawes 6 James Haskell 7 Justin Tipuric 8 CJ Stander

Replacements: 16 Rory Best 17 Joe Marler 18 Kyle Sinckler 19 Iain Henderson 20 Peter O’Mahony 21 Greig Laidlaw 22 Johnny Sexton 23 Liam Williams.

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