Sam Warburton leads Lions in opening game against Provincial Barbarians

Sheri Evans
June 1, 2017

The Lions landed in Auckland on Wednesday and will face the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians just three days later, but tour manager Spencer insisted Warren Gatland's men are happy with their plans.

The begin their 13th rugby tour of New Zealand, facing possibly their toughest schedule as they attempt to achieve only their second test series victory over the All Blacks 47 years after the first.

A Lions tour once every 12 years is one of the most anticipated sporting events in New Zealand, and the three Tests were sold out long ago.

"You do get a good feeling in the camp when you win games but, realistically, these next three weeks are going to be big learning weeks - getting combinations together, getting our processes right at lineout, scrum time", Warburton said. Through rugby. It's not through what you say or anything else, it's how you play that speaks.

"I don't think any of us want any controversy to get in the way of what could potentially be a great Test series, let's get excited about that", he said.

"The Lions have to be absolutely clear this time".

Making life more hard for the touring Lions - who have just finished a long season of northern club rugby - is the short turnaround between their arrival, their first game and the nine arduous games thereafter.

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The Lions, whose only Test series victory in New Zealand was in 1971, arrive today at the start of a almost six-week tour.

Gatland this morning revealed his starting XV for Saturday's clash against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, with Sam Warburton leading the team at flanker. When the first game gets underway on Saturday, they start coming thick and fast.

"I can't wait to see them out on the field, it'll probably give us more of an indication of how they'll play and what they'll bring".

The Lions squad members and officials were given an official welcome after arriving on New Zealand soil.

"The smart move would be to protect other key All Blacks before they line up in the first test against the Lions on June 24".

The Lions were forced to restore a host of amateur-era approaches after that All Blacks series hammering, and head to New Zealand this time off the back of a winning trip to Australia in 2013.

Warburton also said jet lag would not be an excuse for any shortcomings on Saturday, and pointed out that with an 11-month-old child he's had more sleep in the last three nights than much of the a year ago. A hymn it has become associated with Welsh rugby, sung before nearly every test match involving Wales.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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