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Baabaas captain demands top Lions showing

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/06/2017 Angelo Risso

Provincial Barbarians skipper Sam Anderson-Heather has called on his troops to do Kiwi grassroots rugby proud when the invitational side takes on a star-studded British and Irish Lions in Whangarei on Saturday.

The Lions head into the first match of their six-week, 10-game tour as heavy favourites against the mostly semi-professional Baabaas side, coached by Clayton McMillan.

They'll look to set the tone for their campaign across the Shaky Isles with a big win in Northland, and have named a star-studded side including Test skipper Sam Warburton and three home union captains in Rory Best, Greig Laidlaw and Alun Wyn Jones.

Yet the 29-year-old Anderson-Heather told reporters his side would provide the stiffest possible challenge in what's forecast to be miserable Whangarei conditions.

They'd look to set their own tone, on behalf of Kiwi rugby - and wouldn't compromise on the Baabaas' classic running-rugby philosophy.

"Deep down inside, there probably is a little bit of that throughout the group - we come from far and wide, represent a lot of different things as individuals, and as a group we've come together as a team that represents the grassroots," the Otago-based rake said.

"It's an opportunity to display that out there tomorrow night."

The Barbarians - who brought together just a 23-man squad for the match - were hit by a late withdrawal on Friday after Junior Ngaluafe departed the squad.

He's been replaced on the Baabaas' bench by All Blacks Sevens ace Joe Webber, who Anderson-Heather tipped to set Whangarei alight.

"There's hours of footage of that kid doing magical things, he's pretty talented, so I'm sure he'll go out there and express himself," Anderson-Heather said.

The side will receive their black, white and red-hooped jerseys from former Barbarians players in a private ceremony on Friday evening.

The Lions, meanwhile, did not arrive in Whangarei until Friday afternoon after dropping into schools and hospitals on their way north from Auckland.

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