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Gatland questions All Blacks selections

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/06/2017 Angelo Risso
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Just hours after calling for an end to pre-Test trash-talk, British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland has again needled his All Blacks counterparts for allegedly erring in their first-Test matchday selection.

Plenty of eyebrows were raised on Thursday morning when winger Julian Savea, with 46 Test tries to his name, was dropped for young gun Rieko Ioane.

The decision to select Ryan Crotty at centre, where he's played just twice in the black jumper, was also met with surprise in some parts.

Those calls, as well as the choice to start with Anton Lienert-Brown on the bench on Saturday, were questioned by the Waikato-born Gatland.

"We were surprised by Crotty being selected at No.13 and Savea, who has been a constant for them, being replaced," Gatland told travelling British media.

"I know how good Ioane is but this is a big game for everyone.

"I'm not sure, looking at their bench, that it's as strong as it's been."

Warren Gatland. © David Rogers/Getty Images Warren Gatland.

Gatland had said on Thursday afternoon that the time for talk - which has been plentiful between him and counterpart Steve Hansen - was over.

Nevertheless, he kept the words coming to British journalists, and again questioned the All Blacks' need for their warm-up thrashing of Samoa.

His Test selection, meanwhile, had been put through the wringer with six difficult matches on Kiwi soil to date - four of which they've won.

"They went and arranged the Samoa game because they feel potentially they're going to be a little bit undone," Gatland said.

"How that helps their preparation I'm not too sure.

"We've taken on an incredibly tough schedule, like nothing the British and Irish Lions have ever faced - sometimes, in the past, midweek teams have been a bit of a frolic, but we've been tested all the way."

British and Irish Lions' Sam Warburton and New Zealand's Kieran Read lift the Series Trophy after the series is drawn during the third test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Eden Park, Auckland In pics: Lions tour of New Zealand
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