Will this be the Lions team to face the All Blacks this weekend?

England players look set to dominate the Lions' first Test team when it is announced in Auckland on Wednesday evening, Irish time.

And while the majority of head coach Warren Gatland's line-up to face New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday appears to be inked in, debate looks set to revolve around three main areas.

Bath's Anthony Watson is likely to pin down one wing slot, but the other spot is seemingly a head-to-head between George North and Elliot Daly. North shone for the Lions in Australia four years ago, but he has not hit top form on tour so far, and Daly starred during Tuesday's 34-6 victory over the Chiefs.

Gatland could still opt for North's power, but Daly is consistently elusive and might have done enough against the Chiefs to convince the Lions coaching staff that he merits a start.

Up-front, it appeared inconceivable before the tour that Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones would not start the first Test. However, that is now a realistic possibility, given the form of Saracens second-row pair Maro Itoje and George Kruis, who could be among four forwards from the European champions in the Lions' front-five, joining prop Mako Vunipola and hooker Jamie George.

But perhaps the biggest debate of all is whether or not tour captain Sam Warburton starts the game, having struggled for consistent form and fitness. Ireland flankers Peter O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien are currently tearing it up, and they are favourites to start, with Munster blindside O'Mahony probably being named as first Test skipper.

Possible Lions team for first Test

15: LEIGH HALFPENNY (Wales)

14: ANTHONY WATSON (England)

13: JONATHAN DAVIES (Wales)

12: BEN TE'O (England)

11: ELLIOT DALY (England)

10: OWEN FARRELL (England)

9: CONOR MURRAY (Ireland).

1: MAKO VUNIPOLA (England)

2: JAMIE GEORGE (England)

3: TADHG FURLONG (Ireland)

4: MARO ITOJE (England)

5: GEORGE KRUIS (England)

6: PETER O'MAHONY (Ireland, capt)

7: SEAN O'BRIEN (Ireland)

8: TAULUPE FALETAU (Wales)

Replacements

Ken Owens (Wales), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Kyle Sinckler (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Sam Warburton (Wales), Rhys Webb (Wales), Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Liam Williams (Wales).


KEYWORDS: rugby, lions

 

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