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Samoa out to test themselves

16 June 2017

"Not that I was ever meant to be here but I have worked hard and all the 41 guys who have been picked have worked hard, so I can't just say it was one day".

The All Blacks and Lions also have in common a strong sense of respect for their opponents this weekend.

Hurricanes duo Vaea Fifita and Jordie Barrett are the two new caps in the squad and will become All Blacks 1158 and 1159. George Kruis 4. Maro Itoje 3.

Peter O'Mahony captains the Lions, their fourth different captain of the tour so far, with Sean O'Brien and Bath Rugby's Taulupe Faletau completing the back row. Ben Te'o 11. George North 10. Leigh Halfpenny starts at full-back. In doing so they have provided the strongest indication yet that Warburton, recovering from an ankle injury, may not be fit for the first test.

Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw of Gloucester Rugby and Wasps' Elliot Daly complete the bench with Biggar.

"If we can get through the game getting those connections going again, getting back into the All Blacks' way, play with a bit of intensity and pace, with some accuracy, it will be good and obviously keeping an eye on the scoreboard", he said.

"I suppose sometimes I sit back and think about my transition into the game, how some people think it has come along quickly, [and] for me it probably doesn't feel that quick but I'm still proud of the steps I've taken", Te'o said.

"You have just got to get up and smash them straight away, like Ireland did in Chicago", he said. We've had a good week and are really looking forward to this match.

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"He's well aware of the competition that's there at the moment", Gatland said.

21 of the 68 players to have captained the All Blacks did so for just one test, and Smith is a chance to join that list with Kieran Read set to return to the role against the Lions.

Coach Steve Hansen has named all three Barrett brothers in the squad for the match at Eden Park.

Ash Dixon captains the side from hooker as part of a pack which includes Elliot Dixon, Liam Messam and Akira Ioane.

But the 2015 Rugby World Cup victor insisted he was ready for anything - whether wearing the black jumper, Maori black jumper or Chiefs colours. Aaron Smith will start after a horror end to last season, marred by publicity around a tryst with a woman in an airport toilet.

Nicknamed "The Hangi Pit" in reference to a traditional Maori cooking technique that makes use of fire-heated stones in an underground oven, and the tourists can expect a red-hot atmosphere when they go toe-to-toe with the Maori All Blacks at Rotorua International Stadium.

New Zealand have won all six Tests they have played against Samoa, with the lowest margin 25-16 when they last met in Apia two years ago.

Watch the Maori All Blacks v British and Irish Lions live on Sky Sports 1 HD on Saturday from 8am.

Samoa out to test themselves