Gatland excited by Lions' 10/12 combination of Russell and Farrell

The Scot and the Englishman will play together against the Lions on Saturday.

Farrell and Russell will play together this weekend.
Farrell and Russell will play together this weekend.

WARREN GATLAND SAYS the Lions plan to give Owen Farrell a chance at out-half at some stage on tour, but the head coach is excited to see him team up with Finn Russell in the starting XV for Saturday’s clash with the Golden Lions.

Scotland’s Russell is at 10, with Farrell at 12 in a Lions team that features 14 changes from last weekend’s win over Japan.

Farrell was at inside centre for the Lions’ two last Tests in New Zealand in 2017 – when he started outside Johnny Sexton – regularly plays there for England, and came off the bench in the position against Japan.

He plays at out-half for his club, Saracens, but will be in the number 12 shirt alongside Russell this weekend.

“They’ve worked really well together,” said Gatland of his 10/12 combination.

“Owen has had a huge amount of experience. His third tour and captain of England, he’s adding a lot to the environment.

“Finn has a slightly different way of playing. He’s matured amazingly in the last few years in terms of his game management and the way he controls the game. We know what flair he has from an attacking perspective, but it’s also those deft attacking kicks that he’s able to bring to his game. I thought against France [in the Six Nations] the way he managed that game and kicking game and control was outstanding.

“It’s pretty exciting to have a look at that combination. We do want to have a look at Owen at 10 at some stage as well and give him an opportunity there because that’s where he’s been picked but we know he’s equally comfortable in the 12 position.

“If you look back at 2017, he played 10 and then we moved him to 12 for the Crusaders game when Johnny Sexton came on and that went really well.

“It does give us an opportunity to have a look at different combinations. He’s very comfortable at both 10 and 12.”

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Scotland’s Chris Harris will be at outside centre this weekend and he is looking forward to benefiting from having two playmakers at 10 and 12. 

“I’ve obviously played quite a bit with Finn and he’s exciting, isn’t he? It will be good to run out in a Lions jersey with him,” said Harris.

“Owen is a brilliant player and brilliant leader, so it’s good to listen and learn from him, pick up his traits so I can bring my game with him, and hopefully that will click nicely.

“They’ve been gelling really well, it’s good to have the contrast of the two and they will complement each other’s games and bring some real variety. It’s going to be an exciting one for spectators and enjoyable to play outside.”

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Murray Kinsella

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