With the British and Irish Lions delivering a mixed bag for Northern Hemisphere fans, one man who has fronted up and remains a calming influence on the field is Owen Farrell.
The Saracens fly-half carries an aura of authority when he’s playing, and his influence on the side is clear to see when the 25-year-old changed the game against the Barbarians, and orchestrated victory against the Crusaders.
Warren Gatland and his coaching staff therefore face an anxious wait ahead of their key man’s fitness; Farrell has had to withdraw from the Maori All Blacks fixture as he damaged his quadriceps in training this week, and is currently having scans on the injury.
Farrell’s place on the bench has been replaced by Dan Biggar, who was one to impress against the Highlanders and gives the Welshman another opportunity to put his hand up for the No.10 jersey.
It’s been reported that Farrell’s injury is unlikely to be to the extent where the Sarries man is sent home, in similar fashion to Stuart Hogg, but if the damage is a grade-one tear, it could rule the Englishman out of the first test on the 24th of June.
With a tour that started without the Lions’ star forward, Billy Vunipola, losing fellow Sarries and star back would raise huge question marks over the Lions coming away with a test victory.
The squad to face the Maori All Blacks is as follows:
Backs: 15 – Leigh Halfpenny; 14 – Anthony Watson, 13 – Jonathan Davies, 12 – Ben Te’o, 11 – George North; Johnny Sexton, 9 – Conor Murray.
Forwards: 1 – Mako Vunipola, 2 – Jamie George, 3 – Tadhg Furlong; 4 – Maro Itoje, 5 – George Kruis; 6 – Peter O’Mahony (captain), 7 – Sean O’Brien, 8 – Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Iain Henderson, Sam Warburton, Greg Laidlaw, Dan Biggar, Elliot Daly.