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Lions bench Warburton, Farrell out with thigh strain

Lions bench Warburton, Farrell out with thigh strain

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen, on the other side of New Zealand, is already trying to call his bluff.

Warren Gatland handing the Cork man the Lions' captaincy for Saturday's meeting with the Māori All Blacks was no great surprise.

The importance of New Zealander, Ben Te'o to the British and Irish Lions backline has just increased significantly following the thigh injury to Owen Farrell which has ruled the Englishman out of tomorrow's match against the Maori All Blacks.

All Blacks boss Hansen expects Ryan Crotty to be fit to contest selection for the first Lions Test after a rib cartilage issue, while hooker Dane Coles continues to make improvements as he recovers from a long-term concussion problem. Though, that is something which he chose no to do following the tour-ending injury to Stuart Hogg.

"For the players not involved the message is we've seen in the past how significantly the team can change". I use that word.it is not a selfish game but sometimes you have to play well when you need to play well and that day I played all right.

Asked if it would be from the "UK" that Gatland would be sourcing these new players - presumably the reporter believes no further Irish players are deserving of a call-up - Hansen drew a laugh from the gathered media.

"I have put a lot of hard work into my career and you have got to take your opportunities when they come", says O'Mahony.

"If we can get through the game getting those connections going again, getting back into the All Blacks' way, play with a bit of intensity and pace, with some accuracy, it will be good and obviously keeping an eye on the scoreboard", he said.

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Full-back Ben Smith will lead the side for the first time in Read's absence. We've got to keep some combinations back and keep the All Blacks guessing a little about what our final squad might be.

"There's no time to be looking around thinking, "oh how good is this", just being happy where I am; it's all about going out there and challenging". Following his father's lineage, he also played once for Samoa.

Warburton is only on the bench, though he is the one player Gatland is hoping comes though to face the All Blacks at Eden Park a week tomorrow.

Farrell will have one more chance to prove his fitness before the opening Test against the All Blacks with the Lions set to take on the Chiefs in Hamilton on Tuesday 20 June.

He played 10 games for his old club in Ireland Terenure while he was away.

With Billy Vunipola ruled out before the tour left Britain, losing another lynchpin in Farrell would be a awful blow to the Lions' prospects.

But I never said I wanted to play for the Lions at the end of this, I never said I wanted to get back to play for Ireland.

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