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Sexton and Farrell can stretch NZ: Gatland

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly and Angelo Risso

The British and Irish Lions have gone for broke with their second-Test squad to face the All Blacks, naming twin playmaking threats and dumping their captain.

Owen Farrell will shift out one place to second-five eighth for the crucial match in Wellington on Saturday, with Ireland's Johnny Sexton handed the No.10 jersey.

It's the combination which finished last week's 30-15 loss at Eden Park, with strapping No.12 Ben Te'o demoted to the reserves bench.

Dropped completely is captain Peter O'Mahony, the hard-working Irish flanker who was regarded as a surprise choice as skipper.

Tour captain Sam Warburton is promoted from the bench and will lead the team from the unfamiliar role as a blindside flanker.

A third personnel change is at lock where Maro Itoje replaces fellow-Englishman George Kruis.

Lock Courtney Lawes, loose forward CJ Stander and outside back Jack Nowell have been rewarded for their strong mid-week form with Test berths on the bench.

Leigh Halfpenny joins Kruis and O'Mahony in the stands.

But with the series on the line, Lions coach Warren Gatland provides the best offensive threat.

He has repeatedly highlighted Te'o's failure to take advantage of a Lions overlap at a crucial point of the match in Auckland.

"We created opportunities in the first Test and there were a few that we didn't finish," Gatland said.

"We were disappointed that we put ourselves in a position to put the All Blacks under pressure and to get back into the game, and we let it slip.

"It's given us a bit more of an attack option with the 10-12 combination. We have to change, tactically, the way that we play."

The pair are yet to start a game together on tour but have finished three of them together, including notable wins over the Crusaders and Maori All Blacks.

Gatland felt for O'Mahony, who he said had done little wrong throughout the tour.

However, the impact off the bench of Warburton and Itoje last week was telling, he said.

"We need to get pressure on the ball and get bodies on the ball. It's something that Sam's excellent at doing.

"We saw Maro's impact and he'll bring an edge and a physicality."

BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS: Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Davies, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Taulupe Faletau, Sean O'Brien, Sam Warburton (capt), Alun Wyn Jones, Maro Itoje, Tadhg Furlong, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola. RESERVES: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander, Rhys Webb, Ben Te'o, Jack Nowell.

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