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O’Mahony to lead Lions in first Test – see the full line-up

Lions team: Liam Williams (Wales); Anthony Watson (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Ben Te'o (England), Elliot Daly (England); Owen Farrell (England), Conor Murray (Ireland); Maka Vunipola (England), Jamie George (England), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland); Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England); Peter O'Mahony (capt, Ireland), Sean O'Brien (Ireland), Taulupe Faletau (Wales).

Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony will captain the British and Irish Lions in the first Test against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.

Wales flanker Sam Warburton, made tour captain by head coach Warren Gatland, will be on the bench at Eden Park.

Welshman Liam Williams and England’s Elliot Daly are surprise inclusions in the back three, alongside another Englishman, Anthony Watson.

The Lions play three Tests against the world champions.

The All Blacks announced their side earlier on Wednesday, with number eight Kieran Read named as skipper after returning from injury.

The second Test takes place in Wellington on Saturday, 1 July, before the teams return to Eden Park on Saturday, 8 July.

From Ireland bench to Lions captaincy

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Munster flanker O’Mahony was not a regular pick for Ireland in this year’s Six Nations after losing his place following a long-term knee injury.

The 27-year-old’s solitary start came when he was recalled for their final match against England, but only after Jamie Heaslip was injured in the warm-up.

O’Mahony was named man of the match as Ireland beat Eddie Jones’ side to deny them a second successive Grand Slam.

He captained the Lions in Saturday’s win over Maori All Blacks – the final tour game before the opening Test – and impressed in the back row alongside Taulupe Faletau and Sean O’Brien.

“It’s a reward for how the back row has gone. There is a nice balance there,” said Gatland, who named the same trio for the Test. “Peter has done a good job.”

Warburton, 28, struggled with a minor ankle problem earlier in the tour, but returned to captain the Lions in the defeat by the Highlanders before coming off the bench against the Maori All Blacks.

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CJ Stander lauds the leadership of Munster team-mate Peter O’Mahony

‘We have to score tries’

Experienced former Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones, 31, is picked over England’s Maro Itoje in the second row.

Hooker Jamie George, whose 17 caps for England have all come off the bench, will start ahead of Ireland’s Rory Best and Wales’ Ken Owens.

George, England’s Mako Vunipola and Tadhg Furlong of Ireland resume their combination in the front row.

England fly-half Owen Farrell, fit again after a thigh injury, starts ahead of Ireland’s Johnny Sexton, with compatriot Ben Te’o at inside centre and Wales’ Jonathan Davies at outside centre.

In-form Irishman Conor Murray partners Farrell at half-back as the Lions bid to become the first team to beat the All Blacks at Eden Park since 1994.

“We have picked a side based on form with a lot of players putting their hands up,” said New Zealander Gatland.

“To beat the All Blacks you have to be courageous and play some rugby. You have to score tries and we have picked a team capable of doing that.”

Six Nations champions England provide seven players in the starting XV, with four from Wales and Ireland, There are no Scotland players in the 23-man matchday squad.

Analysis

Brian Moore, former England hooker, on BBC Radio 5 live:

I thought Gatland would go with George North on the wing. That’s because you’d want your combination to have played more than once.

It’s a risk picking these players as they may not gel in the way you would want them to.

Andrew Mehrtens, former New Zealand fly-half, on BBC Radio 5 live:

I’ve been very impressed by the Lions. It’s a strong side and I can’t wait for the Test.

I’ve loved Liam Williams and have done since he had a great tour here with Wales. He brings something extra – his combination, his counter-attacking.

Matt Dawson, former Lions and England scrum-half, on BBC Radio 5 live:

My one reservation is the conditions are not meant to be good on the weekend and size is going to be important.

Lions team: L Williams (Wales); A Watson (England), J Davies (Wales), B Te’o (England), E Daly (England); O Farrell (England), C Murray (Ireland); M Vunipola (England), J George (England), T Furlong (Ireland); AW Jones (Wales), G Kruis (England); P O’Mahony (capt, Ireland), S O’Brien (Ireland), T Faletau (Wales).

Replacements: K Owens (Wales), J McGrath (Ireland), K Sinckler (England), M Itoje (England), S Warburton (Wales), R Webb (Wales), J Sexton (Ireland), L Halfpenny (Wales).

‘Brave’, ‘solid’ & ‘plenty of X-factor’ – former Lions react

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Did Guscott predict O’Mahony call?

When the tour squad was announced in April, former Lions centre and BBC rugby union analyst Jeremy Guscott predicted his starting XV for the first Test.

He might have only got four of the XV correct, but the former England centre did have this to say about the man who will captain the side on Saturday…

“People will think ‘what chance does Peter O’Mahony have of starting in that Test team?’ I think he has every chance – just look at his performance in his last game against England.

“If he goes out and plays before the first Test with that kind of intensity and impact he will stand a chance.”

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