07242017

Sexton & Farrell named in Lions team for second Test

Farrell and Sexton impressed together in the final quarter of the first Test

England’s Farrell, left, and Ireland’s Sexton impressed together in the final quarter of the first Test

Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell will start together for the British and Irish Lions in the second Test against New Zealand in Wellington.

Sexton comes in at fly-half with Farrell at inside centre, the first time the combination have started on tour.

Captain Sam Warburton replaces Peter O’Mahony on the blind-side flank, with Maro Itoje preferred to George Kruis.

“You have to make the tough calls,” said Lions head coach Warren Gatland.

Lions team<!–

The Lions lost the series opener 30-15 in Auckland, with Gatland citing a lack of physicality in the forwards, which he has sought to address with the inclusion of Saracens lock Itoje and Warburton.

“We saw Maro’s impact in the first Test and he will bring an edge and a physicality, as will Sam Warburton in terms of pressure on the ball,” Gatland added.

But while those changes were expected, the selection of Sexton and Farrell in the same midfield comes as a surprise, especially given Gatland’s reluctance to field the combination in the tour matches.

“Both have played well and it gives us that attacking option in the 10-12 channel,” Gatland continued.

“We created opportunities in the first Test and there were a few that we didn’t finish.”

Elsewhere Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander and Jack Nowell are among the replacements after playing for the midweek side against the Hurricanes on Tuesday.

Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Rhys Webb and Ben Te’o also make the bench.

Robbie Henshaw and George North are not involved after being ruled out of the rest of the tour.

Ireland centre Henshaw (pectoral) and Wales wing North (hamstring) were injured in the 31-31 draw against Hurricanes in Wellington and will return home after Saturday’s match.

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