The first real midweek team selected

Henrietta Strickland
June 19, 2017

"We haven't seen a lot of turnovers so far".

For that reason, Lions defence coach Andy Farrell has plenty to be happy about.

"I've learned from experience that it takes me at least two games and then the third game I'll probably be playing some good rugby but Gats [coach Warren Gatland] knew that".

The line speed with which the Lions shot out to confront the Crusaders made the Lions' task much easier than it should have been, but Farrell is not satisfied with leaving it there and wants to see an even bigger improvement from the matchday 23 that take on the Highlanders.

And while the Lions did not suggest that Hogg would be ruled out for the remainder of the tour, Farrell indicated that they believe they have enough players in their squad to cover for the potential loss. "I think we came through pretty well". Centre Jonathan Davies is also on track to play as he also goes through his return-to-play protocols following his own early withdrawal in the match against the Crusaders.

"I thought our game management was outstanding against a very good side". This is the type of test that we want because that's exactly what the All Blacks are fantastic at.

The Highlanders have had their squad plundered by the All Blacks and the Maori All Blacks, losing key playmakers in scrum-half Aaron Smith and full-back Ben Smith to the national side, plus Elliot and Ash Dixon, Joe Wheeler, Rob Thompson and Tom Franklin to the Maori select side.

Sam Warburton will tell Warren Gatland that there is "every chance" he will not be involved in the first Test.

With Warburton still looking to get back to full fitness after recovering from a minor ankle injury, flyhalf Dan Biggar has been passed fit to start after picking up a concussion in the 22-16 defeat to the Blues last Tuesday.

Whatever the policing when the front-rows pack down however, Gatland remains confident the Lions have the versatility and the potency to cope at the set-piece.

"We know the quality of players we have". That is the style with which they are most comfortable and I'm sure the Lions will not be deviating much from it. I have to deliver in that area on Tuesday.

The Highlanders are missing a number of players, but can still boast a starting XV that includes All Blacks such as Lima Sopoaga, Malakai Fekitoa, and Waisake Naholo.

"I suppose with the work you do behind the scenes in reviews and meetings, we'll get better from there". "We are building some momentum and we have improved with every game", he added. Hogg failed an head injury assessment and will miss the next match against the Highlanders.

British and Irish Lions team to face the Highlanders on Tuesday: J Payne (Ireland), J Nowell, J Joseph (both England), R Henshaw (Ireland), T Seymour (Scotland), D Biggar, R Webb (both Wales), J Marler (England), R Best (Ireland), K Sinckler, C Lawes (both England), I Henderson (Ireland), J Haskell (England), S Warburton (Wales, capt), CJ Stander (Ireland).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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