By Thomas Branston
The British and Irish Lions will be captained by Wales international hooker Ken Owens as they prepare to face Super Rugby franchise the Blues at Eden Park, Auckland on Wednesday.
The Scarlets hooker recovered from an ankle injury sustained towards the end of the season and returns to make his Lions debut after almost jeopardising his place on the tour of New Zealand.
Warren Gatland has named 15 changes including 11 Lions debutants for their clash against the Auckland based side and Owens is joined by four of his fellow internationals in the squad with Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny all starting and Liam Williams named on the bench.
The front row is made up of Wales hooker Ken Owens, Jack McGrath and Dan Cole with Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje partnering at second-row.
The back row is lined up with Wasps flanker James Haskell, Justin Tipuric and Munster forward CJ Stander starting at no. 8.
Its an all Welsh pairing at half-back with Rhys Webb starting at scrum-half and Dan Biggar at fly-half, while Ireland duo Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne are paired together in midfield.
Toulon’s Leigh Halfpenny starts at full-back and is joined by England’s Jack Nowell and Elliot Daly who competed against each other in the Aviva Premiership final just two weeks ago.
The New Zealand Provincial Barbarians gave the Lions a stern test in their first game of the tour with the visitors edging a close tie, a 13-7 victory after Anthony Watson spared their blushes.
The front row that started against the Provincial Barbarians (Kyle Sinckler, Rory Best and Joe Marler) are all named on the bench, as well as fly-half Johnny Sexton and scrum-half Greig Laidlaw and Ireland back row Peter O’Mahony has been added to the squad.
The British and Irish Lions to face the Blues | 15. Leigh Halfpenny, 14. Jack Nowell, 13. Jared Payne, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Elliot Daly, 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Rhys Webb; 1. Jack McGrath, 2. Ken Owens (c), 3. Dan Cole, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Courtney Lawes, 6. James Haskell, 7. Justin Tipuric, 8. CJ Stander.
Replacements | 16. Rory Best, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Iain Henderson, 20. Peter O’Mahony, 21. Greig Laidlaw, 22. Johnny Sexton, 23. Liam Williams.