The third test of the DHL Lions Series is set for a tremendous climax. After a win for both opponents, the heat is now turned up, in the most watched International series in recent history. The British and Irish Lions 2017 tour pinboard follows the squad selection and intrigue that has all rugby fans attention.
The third, and deciding test now heads back to Eden Park. While a fortress for the All Blacks, the onus has switched from attacker, to defender. The World Champions are under threat of losing a home series, for the first time since 1986.
British and Irish Lions 2017 Tour Pinboard – Third Test Climax!
Squad Announced for Kieran Read’s 100th Test
The All Blacks team to play the third and DHL New Zealand Lions Series-deciding Test against the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday July 8. The match day 23 for the Test (with Test caps in brackets) is:
New Zealand: Joe Moody (27), Codie Taylor (18), Owen Franks (93), Brodie Retallick (63), Samuel Whitelock (87), Jerome Kaino (80), Sam Cane (43), Kieran Read (99) – Captain, Aaron Smith (61), Beauden Barrett (52), Julian Savea (53), Ngani Laumape (1), Anton Lienert-Brown (12), Israel Dagg (64), Jordie Barrett (1).
Reserves: Nathan Harris (7), Wyatt Crockett (61), Charlie Faumuina (49), Scott Barrett (7), Ardie Savea (15), TJ Perenara (32), Aaron Cruden (49), Malakai Fekitoa (23)
The third and deciding Test in the DHL New Zealand Lions Series will be a special milestone for a number of players. Captain Kieran Read will play his 100th Test match and 25th as captain. 22 wins from 24 Tests as captain, Read has the highest winning record in the world of any captain with more than 20 Tests – at 91 percent.
He will become the seventh All Blacks centurion after Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Daniel Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Mils Muliaina. Also, Aaron Cruden and Charlie Faumuina are expected to play their 50th Test matches; from the bench.
Head Coach Steve Hansen Says “Winner Takes All”
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “Firstly, on behalf of the All Blacks and all of New Zealand, I’d like to congratulate ‘Reado’ (Kieran Read) on reaching the milestone of 100 Test matches. It’s a special achievement to play just one Test, so to play 100 is a remarkable effort. We’d also like to congratulate Jordie on making his first Test start in what will be a very memorable occasion for him.
“This final match in the DHL New Zealand Lions Series is going to be a cracker. It’s the Series we expected it to be, as the Lions have quality players.
“It now comes down to this Saturday – the winner takes all.”
“That’ll create its own unique pressures and it’s going to be interesting to see how both sides cope with it. We’ve had a good week of preparation and are very excited by the opportunity that’s ahead of us. I’m sure the Lions are as well. We know it’ll be a physical and intense match. But just as importantly, it’ll be a game where both teams will have moments of momentum.
“The ability of everyone to adapt and adjust throughout the 80 minutes will be crucial.”
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) July 3, 2017
Note: Sonny Bill Williams was handed a four game suspension, for his red card offence in the second test. That has promoted Ngani Laumape to his first start, as well as Jordie Barrett and Julian Savea returning to starting squad [since the Samoa test].
Lions Squad Selected for 2017 Tour Climax
Sam Warburton will again lead from the front, gaining his fifth Lions cap. After defeating the All Blacks in the second test in Wellington, his side broke the home teams unbeaten streak at home.
For first time since 1993 that the Lions have kept the same XV for consecutive Tests. Unlike 1993, they will need to survive an expected All Blacks rebuke. A wounded New Zealand side, one which wishes to restore pride and retain a formidable home record.
British and Irish Lions: Mako Vunipola – England, Jamie George – England, Tadhg Furlong – Ireland, Maro Itoje – England, Alun Wyn Jones – Wales, Sam Warburton (capt) Wales, Sean O’Brien – Ireland, Taulupe Faletau – Wales, Conor Murray – Munster, Ireland, Johnny Sexton – Ireland, Elliot Daly – England, Owen Farrell – Saracens, England, Jonathan Davies – Scarlets, Wales, Anthony Watson – Bath Rugby, England, Liam Williams – Scarlets, Wales.
Replacements: Ken Owens – Wales, Jack McGrath – Ireland, Kyle Sinckler – England, Courtney Lawes – England, CJ Stander – Ireland, Rhys Webb – Wales, Ben Te’o – England, Jack Nowell – England.
Head coach Warren Gatland resisted the urge to change a winning team. “We felt we should reward the players for the result and the courage that they showed in coming from behind from 18-9 down. Digging themselves out of a hole and then finishing strongly in that last 10 to 15 minutes.”
Players like Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones [ninth cap] are experienced campaigners. Men who are new to the environment may play the biggest part. Jamie George (below) knows the challenge will make for a fantastic occasion Saturday night.
— British&Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 5, 2017
“This is a huge chance for this group of players to show their abilities and reap the benefits of the work everyone has put in,” Gatland told lionsrugby.com.
“It is their chance to make Lions history.”
Not since 1971, have the tourists had any sense of parity with the New Zealand team. With one result, the 2017 vintage can write their names into the history books. They will have done this by playing a tough brand of rugby, and denying the All Blacks any try scoring opportunities in Wellington.
Lions 2017 Tour Pinboard – Visitors Will be in Fine Voice
All through this tour of New Zealand, the visitors have been ever-present. In the bright red apparel, most are hard to miss. When scattered up and down Queen Street in Auckland, they are very recognizable. When in mass, the ‘sea of red’ is hard to ignore.
🎶 Lions fans are leaving their mark in New Zealand, and this group are no different 🎶
— British&Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 5, 2017
Always in fine voice, they have drowned out the cries by a less vocal All Black supporter-base. In full voice, the British and Irish Lions fans will again account for up to 30% of the crowd at Eden Park. And with more fans taking the chance to fly into New Zealand for the decider, the numbers maybe a motivating factor.
In the epic climax to a thrilling test series, rugby fans worldwide are the beneficiaries. The United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, will be enthralled. The anticipation of a rebuke from the home side or a more confident Lions team entering the ‘fortress’ of Eden Park, the implications for the Lions 2017 tour pinboard are truly mesmerizing.