British and Irish Lions 2017: Rory Best captains side against Chiefs with all six call-ups named among replacements

Six new players look set to receive their first action of the tour after joining the squad this weekend

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rory Best will captain the British and Irish Lions for the first time on the tour of New Zealand after being named in one of 15 changes to the side that will face the Chiefs on Tuesday, with all six call-ups named among the replacements.

Best starts again alongside Joe Marler and Dan Cole, with Courtney Lawes returning from the head injury that forced him out of last week’s defeat by the Highlanders, having completed the relevant return-to-play protocols.

Lawes joins Iain Henderson in the second-row, with the Irishman taking his place in the starting line-up after featuring from the replacements in the last two matches for the Lions. Behind him, James Haskell and Justin Tipuric start at blindside and openside flanker respectively,  with CJ Stander returning at No 8.

Lions video diary: Record win over Maori All Blacks ahead of first test

As expected, Greig Laidlaw and Dan Biggar start at half-back, having come off the bench in Saturday’s 32-10 win over the Maori All Blacks, with Irish centre pairing Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne renewing their partnership, one that also started the defeat by the Blues, with English pair Elliot Daly and Jack Nowell on the wings.

Wales’ Liam Williams is given his first run-out at full-back, with the Saracens-bound back vying with George North and Daly for a place in the Test side.

"We are five games into the Tour and there is still a lot to play for,” Gatland said. Those involved on Tuesday will be playing not only for themselves in terms of further selection but also for the whole squad.

The four Welshmen and two Scots that head coach Warren Gatland called up to the squad this week all feature among the replacements, with props Tomas Francis and Allan Dell, hooker Kristian Dacey, lock Cory Hill, scrum-half Gareth Davies and fly-half Finn Russell all set for their first appearances on the tour in what could also be their last, given they will only stay with the squad for a week.

Joining them is lock Alun Wyn Jones and wing Tommy Seymour, and it could prove an important cameo from the former, with Maro Itoje and George Kruis threatening his place in the Test starting line-up.

Defending his decision to bring in the players from the nearby Wales and Scotland squads rather than anyone from the England or Ireland squads that appeared to be closer to selection based on performance, Gatland said: "We are here to win a Test series and we have brought cover for the replacements bench so we can limit the number of players who need to double up, which is tough to do at this level of rugby.

"We know it is going to be another big challenge against the Chiefs who have won the Super Rugby title twice in the last five years.”

British and Irish Lions squad vs Chiefs:

Liam Williams; Jack Nowell, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Elliot Daly; Dan Biggar, Greig Laidlaw; Joe Marler, Rory Best, Dan Cole; Iain Henderson, Courtney Lawes; James Haskell, Justin Tipuric, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Allan Dell, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones, Gareth Davies, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour.