Chiefs look to play expansive game


The Lions have left Warburton out of Tuesday's squad to face the Chiefs in Hamilton however, and now he is edging ever closer to a spot in Saturday's line-up for the first All Blacks Test.

Our team of expert commentators, reporters and pundits includes World Cup victor Ben Kay as lead co-commentator for all three Tests against the All Blacks, with fellow former Lion and Welsh legend Shane Williams also a key part of talkSPORT's coverage for the Test series and other tour matches.

He has called on Gareth Davies, Cory Hill, Tomas Francis and Kristian Dacey from Wales and Scotland's Finn Russell and Allan Dell, all of whom have been named on the bench against the Chiefs. "I've been hugely impressed by him as a player and as a leader".

But All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster delivered an upbeat fitness bulletin when he spoke to reporters in Auckland on Tuesday.

"Players have to stay on form, be confident and these players are up for it".

But Gatland said his absence was precautionary and the Englishman was ready to play.

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The 23-man squad that faces the Chiefs can not afford to take their eye off the ball to focus on the upcoming Test series, otherwise they will be turned over and any momentum from the 32-10 victory over the Maori All Blacks lost.

Asked if it is possible that the Lions could repeat that defensive shut-out against New Zealand, Farrell replied: "Of course it is because it's not just about defence; it's about the whole game coming together". The loose forward is backing up after representing the Maori All Blacks against the Lions in Rotorua.

Their combination of ball skills, pace, phenomenal lines of running, blur of support players and width - they can flood the tramlines like no one else - were then in full evidence. They gave a couple of penalties for blocking.

Farrell and the rest of the Lions coaching staff would not be doing their job if they didn't have one eye on the All Blacks, and the former England centre believes that the Lions will need to raise their game to a level that they have never reached before if they are to shoot down the reigning world champions. Against the New Zealand Maori, they worked off of the back of Conor Murray's kicking game, putting their hosts under pressure with a pinpoint kick and chase effort.

"We don't care what goes on or what has been said", Farrell said. "It makes it hard to complete attacking opportunities". If you listen to the referee's mic, they were talking about it constantly through the Maori game. Gatland will want to a leave a good impression in a town in which, as a player for Waikato province between 1986 and 1994 and coach between 2005 and 2007, he has always been much-admired.