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Sexton, Best and Henderson start the Lions' first game of 2017 tour

Warren Gatland’s men face the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on Saturday.

Murray Kinsella reports from Auckland

IRELAND INTERNATIONALS Jonny Sexton, Rory Best and Iain Henderson have been named in Warren Gatland’s Lions team for their tour opener against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on Saturday [KO 8.35am Irish time, Sky Sports].

Jonathan Sexton Sexton starts at 10. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Tadhg Furlong and Jared Payne will be on the bench for the clash at Toll Stadium in Whangerai.

Gatland has named a strong team for the first game of this year’s tour, after the Lions arrived in New Zealand yesterday.

Best is in the front row with Englishmen Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler, while Henderson partners Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones in the second row. Captain Sam Warburton is in the seven shirt, with Ross Moriarty at blindside and Taulupe Faletau completing on all-Welsh back row.

Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw partners Sexton in the halfbacks, while Ben Te’o and Jonathan Joseph of England get first crack at the midfield spots and Tommy Seymour, Anthony Watson and Stuart Hogg make up an exciting back three.

Joining Furlong and Payne on the bench are Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, George Kruis, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb and England’s Owen Farrell.

Lions (v NZ Provincial Barbarians):

15. Stuart Hogg
14. Anthony Watson
13. Jonathan Joseph
12. Ben Te’o
11. Tommy Seymour
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Greig Laidlaw

1. Joe Marler
2. Rory Best
3. Kyle Sinckler
4. Alun Wyn Jones
5. Iain Henderson
6. Ross Moriarty
7. Sam Warburton
8. Taulupe Faletau

Replacements:

16. Jamie George
17. Mako Vunipola
18. Tadhg Furlong
19. George Kruis
20. Justin Tipuric
21. Rhys Webb
22. Owen Farrell
23. Jared Payne

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Murray Kinsella

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