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Bryn Gatland in team for Lions tour opener

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/04/2017

One name stands out like a beacon in the team to face the British and Irish Lion in the first match of their New Zealand tour.

The New Zealand Provincial Barbarians side features North Harbour first five-eighth Bryn Gatland, the son of Lions head coach Warren Gatland, adding a family feel to the tour opener in Whangarei on June 3.

Coach Clayton McMillan will call on Gatland to steer the side comprising mainly unheralded provincial players in expansive fashion.

They want to provide the tourists with a taste of what they can expect for the following five weeks.

"We have picked the base of a team that is capable of playing an entertaining brand of rugby which fits with the BaaBaas tradition of innovation and flair and playing with pure guts and heart," McMillan said.

McMillan has unveiled 19 players, with the remainder of the squad to be confirmed.

Another stand-out feature is an inclusion of at least one player from each of the 14 NPC unions.

Veteran flanker Peter Rowe is the sole selection from the semi-professional Heartland Championship, the 35-year-old having skippered Wanganui to Meads Cup honours last year.

"It was important to us in selecting this team that it was truly representative of New Zealand," McMillan said.

"It wasn't an easy task, the amount of talent considered is testament to how strong New Zealand rugby is now. We believe we have found a mix of upcoming players and hardened provincial stalwarts to make an exciting team."

Four of the forwards boast Super Rugby experience, albeit limited, along with Taranaki back Johnny Fa'auli. The Chiefs second five-eighth had impressed in his rookie season until being handed a recent four-week ban for a high tackle.

Thirteen of the squad have previously represented either New Zealand Schools, New Zealand under-20s or the Maori All Blacks.

Forwards Josh Goodhue and Matt Matich will both represent host union Northland at Toll Stadium while there are also two players each from Taranaki, Waikato and Counties-Manukau.

NZ Provincial Barbarians:

Backs: Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau), Jack Stratton (Canterbury), Bryn Gatland (North Harbour), Jonathan Fa'auli (Taranaki), Jonah Lowe (Hawke's Bay), Sevuloni Reece (Waikato), Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau), Junior Ngaluafe (Southland).

Forwards: Aiden Ross (Bay of Plenty), Tolu Fahamokioa (Wellington), Sam Anderson-Heather (Otago), Epalahame Faiva (Waikato), Marcel Renata (Auckland), Quinten Strange (Tasman), Joshua Goodhue (Northland), Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (Manawatu), Mitchell Brown (Taranaki), Matthew Matich (Northland), Peter Rowe (Wanganui).

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