Gatland hopes Lions have earned respect on toughest tour

Posted July 07, 2017

So much is at stake for both sides, after the Lions' victory last week put them in a position to clinch only their second series win over New Zealand in 129 years of touring.

There was a period in the second half where Mako Vunipola, before eventually being shown a yellow card, was consistently gifting the All Blacks penalty opportunities, and the Lions had the wayward kicking of Beauden Barrett to thank for ensuring that they were still in the tie late on. New Zealand have not lost at Eden Park for 23 years and it will take an exceptional effort, better than last week's performance, for the Lions to topple them this time.

Gatland has not meddled with his winning back row from last week, with captain Sam Warburton playing alongside Sean O'Brien and Toby Faletau. Replacements: K Owens, J McGrath, K Sinckler, C Lawes, CJ Stander; R Webb, B Te'o, J Nowell. "We have got to prepare really well, make sure we don't get too hyped up, get out there and do our job to the best of our ability".

"Sometimes you can maybe get overawed by the whole occasion and think about making history and the rest of it".

"We felt we should reward the players for the result and the courage that they showed in coming from behind from 18-9 down, digging themselves out of a hole and then finishing strongly in that last 10 to 15 minutes", he said.

"But that's what every sacrifice you've made since you were a young kid and chose to be a rugby player is all about. games like this".

"You've got to be excited about it - it's one of the biggest games of their lives". It doesn't come round very often.

Laumape starts at inside centre in place of the suspended Sonny Bill Williams.

Dagg, who started on the right wing in the first Test before replacing Smith at fullback for the second, returns to the right wing.

Laumape will combine with Anton Lienert-Brown in the third midfield combination the All Blacks have used in the series so far. "It's just unfortunate I guess". We had one day off, which was the Wednesday before the first Test, where we weren't travelling or doing something.

Players on both sides agreed it was a match of a magnitude they have not experienced before.

British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton has "unfinished business" in the tour decider against New Zealand.

Those selections were made out of necessity and not choice, due to injuries and suspensions, but it has created the sense that the All Blacks are not entirely in control of this series. They will also have the knowledge that everyone on the pitch has been part of a team that beat the mighty New Zealand on their own soil.

"It's not the first time we've lost, every week there is pressure". We've spoken about it being a World Cup final.

"He's a good man, we've had him in before", Read told reporters about Burling's visit to Eden Park, where the 26-year-old sailor was applauded by fans in the main stand.