Who Will Play In The First Test in New Zealand?
This weekend (27th May 2017) is the culmination of months of grueling and exciting rugby with two title deciders. In the Guinness Pro 12, Llanelli Scarlets travel to Ireland to face Munster, and in the Aviva Premiership, Wasps take on Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham. But which of the 8 British Lions starting in those two finals will be in the starting 15 for the first New Zealand test match in Eden Park, Auckland on 24th June 2017?
Munster vs Llanelli Scarlets
The best of Scotland, Italy, Wales and Ireland face each other at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. In Dublin there will be 5 Lions squad players on the pitch, with tourist Ken Owens (Scarlets) still recovering from injury.
Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)
Many people think that Davies was lucky to be selected, but when he’s on form he is difficult to handle. Since being selected his form has improved, but he will need a big game against Munster to push his claim for a starting spot against the All Blacks on the 24th.
Conor Murray (Munster)
Murray is widely expected to secure the number 9 shirt for the first test. His abrasive style and experience of beating the All Blacks pushes him ahead of Webb and Laidlaw. However, he also is just returning from injury and it will be interesting to see how he performs.
Munster captain, O’Mahony leads by example and will be a huge force to for the Scarlets back row to contain tomorrow. The level of competition in the back row might just keep him out of the starting 15, but he could make the bench.
C J Stander (Munster)
Tough and uncompromising. Stander has been outstanding in recent seasons and Warren Gatland has even talked about him being selected at Number 8. Although maybe Faletau and Moriarty may have something to say about that. Excellent chance of being selected for the 1st Test.
Liam Williams (Scarlets)
He can play anywhere across the back 3 and has even taken over the kicking duties at the Scarlets. Making the first 15 may be just out of his reach, although his versatility might get him a place on the bench.
Wasps vs Exeter Chiefs
In Twickenham, the cream of English rugby will be fighting it out to secure the title. For Exeter it is almost a dream, whilst Dai Young has managed to bring the magic back to Wasps. However, only 3 Lions squad members will be on show.
Eliot Daly (Wasps)
Another versatile back 3 player who performed well in the Six Nations. However, with the level of competition, he may struggle to get into the squad for the 1st test unless his performances on tour are outstanding.
James Haskell (Wasps)
Drafted into the squad following Billy Vunipola’s unfortunate withdrawal. Just because he is a late call up, doesn’t mean that he can’t secure a spot in the 22 and he will be out to show that he should have been selected from day 1. However, competition in the back row does suggest he may be resigned to watching from the stands.
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Quick, powerful and abrasive. With North highly likely to feature on one wing, is the 2nd berth between Nowell, Daly, Halfpenny and Hogg? Like Daly, securing a place in the test squad may be down to outperforming his challengers on tour.
Playing in the finals will be an exciting but worrying time for all the players. The physicality of rugby means that there will be injuries. We wish all those playing the best of luck and he hope that they are all on that British Lions plane when it leaves the UK for New Zealand.
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