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Aviva Premiership Rugby stars to feature heavily in Lions final midweek game

Aviva Premiership Rugby stars to feature heavily in Lions final midweek game

EIGHT Aviva Premiership players will start the British & Irish Lions’ final midweek game tomorrow looking to force their way into the Test side for the remaining two matches against New Zealand.

After the 30-15 defeat on Saturday, the Lions need to win both of the remaining Tests against the All Blacks if they’re to be victorious in the series.

The midweek side will once again be led by Rory Best and will be hoping to reproduce the performance that saw them run out 34-6 winners against the Chiefs.

TEAM NEWS

Best skippers the same pack that dominated the Chiefs in Hamilton, so that means Harlequins prop Joe Marler and Leicester Tigers’ Dan Cole start either side of the Ireland hooker.

Northampton Saints’ Courtney Lawes and Iain Henderson are together in the second row while Wasps’ James Haskell and Justin Tipuric are alongside CJ Stander in the back row.

Greig Laidlaw, of Gloucester Rugby, and Dan Biggar are reunited as the half backs but two-try hero against the Chiefs, Jack Nowell, is moved from wing to full-back.

Northampton Saint George North and Tommy Seymour are placed on the wings with Robbie Henshaw and Bath Rugby’s Jonathan Joseph in the centres.

There are two familiar faces on the bench for Aviva Premiership Rugby fans also, as Nowell’s Exeter team-mate Tomas Francis and Saracens’ George Kruis are amongst the replacements.

WHAT THEY’VE BEEN SAYING

Harlequins’ Joe Marler on upping his own game:

“I can only play as well as I can, do my job as well as I can for the team. At times on Tour I have not done that but I am fully committed to doing that on Tuesday night.

“There is no extra motivation, we are motivated to be playing the reigning Super Rugby champions, they top all the stats and have unbelievable players.

“It is a hell of a game to be involved in and I am excited about it.”

Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Nowell on Test selection:

“Anything can happen when you are out here, the most pleasing thing is the coaches are changing it and to see Liam (Williams) and Elliot (Daly) in the Test side was pretty cool.

“Every single time you take the field you are trying to get into that Test team, that is the same for every player, but the main thing is not to think about it too much.

“It is about the performance that week, you have to perform well in that – there is a big squad buy in on that.”

OPPONENTS

Defending Super Rugby champions Hurricanes have been in superb form in 2017, and will take some stopping on Tuesday.

They have announced their side and it includes Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett, Vaea Fifita and Ngani Laumape who have all been released by the All Blacks.

HEAD TO HEAD: George North v Julian Savea

The battle of the two left wingers will make for intriguing viewing on Tuesday as the two behemoths put their hands up for Test selection.

Savea – who has 46 tries in 53 Tests for the All Blacks – missed out on selection for the first Test against the Lions to youngster Rieko Ioane.

But Ben Smith’s injury opens the door in the back three and a good performance on Tuesday could sway Steve Hansen.

And the same can be said for North – overlooked for the first Test for Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson – but looking to rediscover his best form in time for the Wellington clash.

KEY STAT

In 2013 Warren Gatland made five changes to his starting XV from the first to second Tests – so places are still up for grabs.

WHERE IS IT BEING PLAYED

The Westpac Stadium – nicknamed the ‘Cake Tin’ – opened its doors in 2000, as it replaced the historic Athletic Park, the scene of memorable Lions victories over the All Blacks from 1971 and 1993.

It is a multi-purpose venue with a capacity of 34,500 and is home to the Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise and the Wellington Mitre 10 Cup team.

It also hosts football, with Wellington Phoenix of the Australian A-League calling it home since 2008, and cricket, with Wellington Firebirds taking part in New Zealand’s T20 competition.

REFEREE

Romain Poite will take charge of his first game on Tour when the Hurricanes face the Lions on Tuesday night.

The Frenchman will also be the man in the middle for the third Test at Eden Park but on Tuesday he is in Wellington with Jerome Garces and Jaco Peyper his touch judges and Ian Smith as the TMO.

WHERE TO WATCH?

Every game of the Tour will be shown on Sky Sports 1 at 8:35AM BST (7:35PM local time) in New Zealand and live on Radio on Talk Sport.

To keep up to date with all the latest news, scores, tables and fixtures faster than ever before, as well as for access to video content including match highlights, make sure you download the Premiership Rugby app. Click here for more information

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