Lions new boys handed Chiefs role

"I have had no contact from the Lions at all", he said.

"He could have played on Saturday", said Gatland on Sunday afternoon in Hamilton. "If it was a Test match he would have played".

He had 12 powerful carries as he took the game to the Kiwis, while three sharp passes showed that the Tullow man is not just about the physical stuff. It's a quad strain that was very high and it's not on his kicking leg - it's on his left leg. He will train tomorrow'.

Pre-game, Warren Gatland was dealt another injury blow with the news Welsh flanker Ross Moriarty was ruled out of the remainder of the tour with ongoing nerve damage.

We're in pretty good shape at the moment. "As I've said, I thought he started the tour really ropey". "That sticks out pretty big and I was actually watching that game on a pop-up channel the other day, but also just the passion in the crowd and that". "At a pinch he probably could have played on Saturday".

The Englishman was one of four Saracens players in the front five alone, with Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and George Kruis all starting, while Northampton Saints winger George North, Bath Rugby pair Anthony Watson and Taulupe Faletau plus Worcester Warriors centre Ben Te'o all started.

Gatland wasn't giving too much away as he attempts to keep the All Blacks guessing. We haven't sat down and discussed and we'll wait until Wednesday. But that's professional sport, we've got to deal with that and move on.

After another outstanding performance, it would be a real surprise if O'Brien isn't in the Lions' Test XV for next weekend. Ben Te'o's done really well and has caused opposition teams problems, Jonathan Joseph against the Highlanders looked unsafe as well.

"We did that in 2013 and if we hadn't have done that then we could have easily lost the series". We're still developing as a team and finding an identity. He coached the provincial team, and the Super Rugby side, the Waikato Chiefs, for a number of years.

"It's one of the hardest things to pick up because it tends to happen quite a long way off the ball. It's exciting and I'm looking forward to it".

"There will be some discussions and debates to be had about the final make-up of the back-row for Saturday".

"It's giving our wings the licence to roam". There's an optimistic belief among northern Hemisphere fans that the same will not happen again this time around, but there is an expectation here in New Zealand that 2017 will simply be a replica of what happened 12 years ago.

Physicality, set-piece, line speed, work-rate and a top-notch kicking game are the hallmarks of a strong Gatland team, and these Lions are not going to deviate from what has brought him plenty of success before. That communication and understanding will hopefully continue.

"Given an opportunity, he'll come in, but there's quality players within the squad already".

In fairness to the South African, that part of the game has to be bossed by the touchies or "assistant referees" as we must now call them. "It's close, the fans get close to it, it's normally a great place to play".

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