Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Sport | By Ellis Neal

Can Chiefs beat the British and Irish Lions?

Can Chiefs beat the British and Irish Lions?

VIEW FROM THE NORTH "Peter O'Mahony, the Ireland flanker, has emerged as the leading contender to captain the British and Irish Lions in the opening test match against the All Blacks on Saturday as his leadership skills were endorsed by assistant coach Andy Farrell", writes Gavin Mairs in the Telegraph.

On form alone, O'Mahony should be the British & Irish Lions blindside for their gargantuan challenge against the All Blacks, at Eden Park, this weekend.

Traditionally, the final midweek game before the first Lions Test does not feature in its starting line-up any players who then go on to start in Saturday's match.

The honours just keep coming for Rory Best as the Ulsterman is captaining the British and Irish Lions for Tuesday's meeting with the Chiefs just days after being awarded the OBE for services to rugby by The Queen. Gatland will hope to see that continue against the Chiefs.

Gatland has clearly divided his squad into test and midweek lineups and it was for that reason he called on six players - four from Wales and two from Scotland who are now playing in the South Pacific - to bring up his current complement to a full 46 players, the equivalent of two match-day 23s. Replacements: 16-Kristian Dacey, 17-Alan Dell, 18-Tomas Francis, 19-Cory Hill, 20-Alun Wyn Jones, 21-Gareth Davies, 22-Finn Russell, 23-Tommy Seymour.

"It makes it hard to complete attacking opportunities and situations because there is so much happening off the ball in terms of holding players".

The Lions face the Waikato Chiefs later on Tuesday, with coach Warren Gatland expected to name his side for the first of three tests against the All Blacks on Thursday.

"I'd be more than comfortable", said Farrell.

"So I'd be anxious if I took them on what might happen to me in the vehicle park later on!"

Gatland appears to be impervious to such criticism but appears more sensitive to barbs from his native New Zealand, where the Lions are being dismissed in some quarters as "one trick ponies".

The tour to date has been punctuated by the New Zealand coach's public statements on the Lions' style of play, schedule and selection choices. Otherwise, they relied for their win on a penalty try and six penalties from fullback Leigh Halfpenny.

"It's probably Sean O'Brien or Peter O'Mahony that I'd be slightly concerned about - not necessarily because of the physical thing, but because they are completely mental", joked Haskell. Against the New Zealand Maori, they worked off of the back of Conor Murray's kicking game, putting their hosts under pressure with a pinpoint kick and chase effort.

Farrell said: "We're going to have to take ourselves to a place that, individually, we've not been to before".

"That's made it hard".

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