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All Blacks expect Farrell-Sexton late show

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/06/2017 Angelo Risso

Owen Farrell may pull on the No.10 jumper for the first British and Irish Lions Test on Saturday, but All Blacks boss Steve Hansen is tipping the English first-five to eventually end up in the midfield.

The 25-year-old Saracens star has been preferred to Johnny Sexton as Lions playmaker-in-chief at Eden Park, with Ben Te'o outside him as No.12.

It was a decision that came as no shock to Hansen, who has watched Te'o blitz opposition midfields on Kiwi soil with his strength and hard running.

But Farrell may move wide at some point to form a lethal playmaking combination with Sexton - especially if chasing the game.

"Te'o has earned his spot there, hasn't he? He's been their number one ball carrier in all the games, he's their best line breaker, his left-foot step is outstanding and he's really good into traffic," Hansen said of the Kiwi-born Englishman.

"You can't quibble with that.

"They could've played Farrell or Te'o at No.12 - at some stage I reckon Farrell will end up there, because Sexton will come on."

On the whole, Hansen insisted Lions boss Warren Gatland has thrown few surprises with his selections - despite the inclusion of back-three duo Liam Williams and Elliot Daly, who impressed against the Chiefs on Tuesday.

But with the zippy Williams preferred to Leigh Halfpenny in the No.15 jumper, the Lions counter-attack may become a genuine weapon.

"There'll be some subtle changes - they might use the blindside, some switch plays, and he's selected Williams because of what he did the other night, so he might want him to counter-attack if we happen to kick," Hansen said.

In defence, Hansen expected the Lions to maintain their dizzyingly high line speed, a key plank of their success in New Zealand to date.

They'd also look to slow the ball down at the ruck - and keep energy levels high by injecting players from the bench, including Sam Warburton.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that we want to play off quick ball, and they'll want us not to," Hansen said.

"Usually the tactics for stopping that are tacklers staying in the tackle a little longer, not rolling away, not allowing you to make your ball placement.

"All we want there is for the referee to make sure he refs the rules."

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