Sport

Lions tour: Chiefs lock Dominic Bird ready to soar against Lions

Lions tour: Chiefs lock Dominic Bird ready to soar against Lions

Kieran Read is set to lead the All Blacks out against the Lions after recovering from injury. A strained ankle in the opening match has also restricted Warburton's playing opportunities in New Zealand but he is in line to feature in the first Test off the bench.

Read has not played since breaking the base of his right thumb and undergoing surgery in late April with the fracture healing in a protective cast that was removed on June 10.

Assistant coach Ian Foster says fingers are crossed the 31-year-old will be cleared by medical staff. "He is desperate to play".

"He's been a big part of the leadership group for a long time", Foster said.

"He has had his first real solid hit-out [in training] with contact and everything. Hopefully he comes through that really well and it becomes an easy decision".

Foster said the influence of Read, who took over from long-term skipper Richie McCaw following the 2015 Rugby World Cup, had been important in helping Smith and the team last Friday.

Having him at the helm, while not essential, will provide a sizeable boost to his team-mates.

"I'd be more than comfortable", stressed Farrell. "You get a lot of respect for that". "We appreciate the feedback, but it doesn't change much of our plan".




Versatile Hurricanes loose forward Ardie Savea did an admirable job at No.8 during the 78-0 crushing of Samoa last week.

Tour captain Sam Warburton is in doubt to start the Test.

The New Zealander made his comments ahead of the Lions match against Waikato Chiefs today but they were aimed squarely at Jaco Peyper, the South African referee in charge of Saturday's first Test at Eden Park.

"You look at the XV that are starting and realise that we've been together and played together, buy and large, for a couple of games now", he said.

"Look, there is a bit of banter going on".

"Sean O'Brien was huge over the weekend with how he slowed the ball down". Best says other than that, they're a well-gelled team.

But he said such shepherding was often hard to spot and warned "we'll keep raising it".

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.


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