Lions coach Gatland rails at New Zealand 'blocking'

Lions coach Gatland rails at New Zealand 'blocking'

Lions coach Gatland rails at New Zealand 'blocking'

Stephen Donald will lead the Chiefs against the British and Irish Lions on Tuesday, when the visitors are likely to field a side without any of the players expected to face the All Blacks in next week's first test.

"It's a nice stepping-stone for next week", coach Gatland said, after the Lions' victory in wet conditions in Rotorua.

Rory Best will be the second successive Ireland player to captain the British & Irish Lions on their 2017 tour, leading the side for Tuesday's clash with the Chiefs at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton (kick-off 7.35pm local time/8.35am Irish time).

"It's a quad strain that was very high and not on his kicking leg".

"I was always confident about Owen being fit for the weekend", Gatland said.

It is a major boost for the Lions, with Farrell now the favourite to start at out-half for the tourists against the All Blacks.

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Sexton, after a poor start to the tour, has done all he can to convince Gatland of his merits.

"It's pretty obvious we want to play with line speed in defence".

"We are five games into the tour and there is still a lot to play for", said Gatland. "All in all we are pretty happy with it". We haven't sat down and discussed and we'll wait until Wednesday. "In a couple of games we haven't been able to get up in the air because there has been that interference".

"It was a good performance", he said. Ben Te'o's done really well and has caused opposition teams problems, Jonathan Joseph against the Highlanders looked unsafe as well. Gatland insisted that the practice of wilful obstruction is more prevalent in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world.

"If Steve Hansen knows what's going on from outside, then he's a much better man than I am".

Messam took advantage of poor handling from George North in testing conditions to boot a loose ball forward and touch down for an opening try, which Damian McKenzie converted against the run of play to put the Maoris in front. "As long as you are within the rules, I don't see any problem".

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"It's giving our wings the licence to roam".

Jack Nowell, the Exeter winger, struggled defensively against the Blues and made just 29 metres with ball in hand against the Highlanders, but Gatland feels he is the best winger in the northern hemisphere at playing off scrum-half and fly-half.

On the surface, this is the game no-one wants to play in. That communication and understanding will hopefully continue.

"It's about staying alive and making sure sometimes you'll get bumped but it's about backing your pace".

The Lions thought they had cashed in on their numerical advantage nearly immediately when Jamie George powered his way towards the line, but the television match official could not see any evidence that the England hooker had got the ball over.

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