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Steve Hansen claims Lions are planning three surprise Lions call-ups

Steve Hansen claims Lions are planning three surprise Lions call-ups”

Farrell had shown imperious form in the Lions' fine 12-3 win over much-vaunted Super Rugby leaders the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend.

The squad beat the USA Eagles and Harlequins in 2016, either side of a 27-14 defeat to Munster but in eight encounters with the Lions, the Maori All Blacks have only won once, in 2005.

"Obviously this is my first tour and I don't really know how things work with the games and selection and stuff like that, so when I get an opportunity to get on the field, I just play hard and get ready and wait for the next selection".

"He's at the stage where he wants to do that".

"I will battle for the No 8, but I think they [the Turbos coaches] see me as a No 6". But if the initial team Gatland announced yesterday is his Test line-up, it contained some surprises.

The Maori All Blacks is a historic team in New Zealand which dates back to 1888, then called the New Zealand Natives, and were the first to wear the famous black jersey. There are no guarantees that Sam Warburton will be restored to the starting XV next week, nor that Alun Wyn Jones will be either; the door is open for O'Mahony to take his shot.

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

The tourists have made no suggestions whatsoever about bolstering the ranks in their squad, though Wales are now in New Zealand ahead of facing Tonga in Auckland on Saturday.

But Hansen believes he knows exactly how Gatland will play the Test matches, as he only has one way of playing.

He has opted for an all-Irish combination at nine and 10 against the Maori, with Johnny Sexton starting at fly-half and Conor Murray at scrum-half.

Warburton has been struggling with an ankle injury and played 68 minutes, scoring a try in the Lions' 23-22 loss to the Dunedin-based Highlanders on Tuesday.

"I think he is about to bring a few extra players out to give himself the ability to play two squads", Hansen said.

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"It's important that we're quite real about where we are, we've come together very quickly and we're preparing against the best team in the world".

"There is a clear difference between the two teams, the Wednesday team and the Saturday team".

The British and Irish Lions could be without two key players for next week's first Test against New Zealand after injury sidelined Owen Farrell and head coach Warren Gatland hinted at omitting Sam Warburton.

Flyhalf Beauden will play his 50th test while utility back Jordie is set to make his debut from the bench, where he has been named beside lock Scott.

Fullback Ben Smith is to lead the side in place of Read, while Aaron Smith, who went through a form lapse previous year, has been restored as the first-choice scrumhalf.

The tourists face the world champions in the first Test in Auckland on Saturday, 24 June.

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"Ryan Crotty will be right for next week", said Hansen.



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