All Blacks name team for 3rd test against Lions

New Zealand's Kieran Read will play his 100th Test this weekend against the Lions

With pristine conditions suiting an All Blacks side that are lethal with ball in hand, the pre-match forecast of the thunderstorms in Auckland will come as a welcome boost for the Lions.

"We think this team has got better and better and will get better on Saturday".

There was another interested spectator floating around today - one Richie McCaw, now a former great, but still a good friend of Read's.

"Rory Best spoke earlier in the week about how the Irish felt they didn't handle the physicality that the All Blacks brought in the game two weeks after the Chicago game, even though they'd spoken about it", said Gatland. The money generated when we go north isn't fairly balanced with the money when they come south, and the Lions tour equalises that.

Last Saturday's (1 July) win by the Lions saw beer volumes in sports venues rise by 8% during match time, compared to the weekend before (24 June) when fans filled pubs to catch the first Test that was won by the hosts.

"I played three games in a week and to be able to back that up by starting the Maori game the week after, it's always nice to do things like that when people don't expect you to be able to".

The match day squad sees 20-year-old outside back Jordie Barrett named at fullback for his first Test start in his second Test, with Israel Dagg moving to the right wing, and Julian Savea returning on the left wing.

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"I hope I don't see that on Saturday night because that would be pretty disappointing", said Gatland, who presided over a winning series in Australia four years ago.

"There's a group of players there who are incredibly competitive and realise this is a massive opportunity to win a series in New Zealand. We made it very hard at times with our discipline", he added. This outpouring of emotion from the likes of Jim Telfer, Sir Ian McGeechan and Paul O'Connell have been part of what makes the Lions so special, with videos from the past becoming the stuff of legend when it comes to the team's history. We haven't done that.

Yet Gatland has been criticised for taking his players out of the pre-game bubble and allowing his squad to relax and recharge between Tests while the All Blacks headed straight to Auckland to begin their preparations. The pair used to wear out the parallel trails on the Rugby Park pitch in Christchurch so close and so hard-working were they, but, on the eve of Read's biggest test, McCaw will keep a bit of distance. They know Laumape is unlikely to pass so they will surely not leave Sexton alone to cope with him, especially after seeing Laumape running consistently at Dan Biggar during the Hurricanes v Lions game. And to be honest, I didn't think I could have done what he's done.

"We've just concentrated on our own game and doing what's been successful for us".

Warren Gatland, the head coach of the British and Irish Lions.

And having drawn level in the series, George has urged the Lions to play the match, not the occasion, against the All Blacks this weekend.

"He messaged me on Twitter to say there was no intention and I don't doubt that". If there are some 50-50 calls, be open-minded.



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