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Overhauled Lions named to play Highlanders

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

The British and Irish Lions players named to face the Highlanders have been put on notice by coach Warren Gatland.

Perform, or drop in the Test selection pecking order behind those that did the business against the Crusaders.

Gatland raised the stakes when naming his team for Tuesday's fourth tour match in Dunedin.

The starting team is overhauled completely from the players who produced the performance of the tour to date, smothering the Super Rugby-leading Crusaders 12-3 on Saturday.

A relaxing of standards against an under-strength Highlanders could prove costly at the Test selection table.

"A lot of people put their hands up with some pretty good performances in Christchurch, there's no doubt about that," Gatland said.

"The players for this game are well aware of the continuity and momentum that's been created.

"They know they've got to go out and perform so that they're in contention."

Gatland reiterated he will pick close to his preferred Test lineup in Saturday's match against the Maori All Blacks.

The return from injury of tour captain Sam Warburton is a feature of the Dunedin team, in which every member of the run-on XV is earning a second start.

Flanker Warburton was unavailable for the loss to the Blues and Saturday's triumph because of an ankle injury sustained in the tour-opening defeat of the Provincial Barbarians.

Also fit again is first five-eighth Dan Biggar after passing concussion protocols following a knock in the Blues match.

Three players remain under injury clouds.

Welsh loose forward Ross Moriarty hasn't featured since straining his back against the Barbarians and isn't likely to train fully until later this week.

There is mixed news for two players who left the Crusaders match for concussion testing and didn't return.

Welsh centre Jonathan Davies is symptom-free, Gatland said.

However, he didn't say that was the case for Scottish fullback Stuart Hogg, whose fitness is also complicated by a nasty facial gash.

Irish halfback Conor Murray, a standout performer in Christchurch, won't train fully on Monday because of a dislocated finger but it isn't serious.

English first five-eighth Owen Farrell, who kicked the Crusaders out of the game in a fine outing, is included on the reserves bench.

Ireland's New Zealand back Jared Payne switches to fullback after playing centre against the Blues on a tender ankle.

English flanker James Haskell will line up against a Highlanders team he represented in 2012 and 2013.

British and Irish Lions: Jared Payne, Jack Nowell, Jonathan Joseph, Robbie Henshaw, Tommy Seymour, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb, CJ Stander, Sam Warburton (capt), James Haskell, Iain Henderson, Courtney Lawes, Kyle Sinckler, Rory Best, Joe Marler. Res: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Dan Cole, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Greig Laidlaw, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly.

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