WELLINGTON The flyhalf son of British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has been included in the core squad for the New Zealand Barbarians side to face the tourists in their opening match in June.
Bryn Gatland, who was recently called into the Auckland Blues squad but has yet to make his Super Rugby debut, was among 19 players selected from 15 of New Zealand's provincial unions for the June 3 tour opener in Whangarei.
There are no All Blacks in the squad but five of the players have Super Rugby experience and 13 have played for New Zealand schoolboys, under-20 or Maori sides.
"It was important to us in selecting this team that it was truly representative of New Zealand," said coach Clayton McMillan.
"It wasn't an easy task, the amount of talent considered is testament to how strong New Zealand rugby is now. We believe we have found a mix of upcoming players and hardened provincial stalwarts to make an exciting team.
"We have picked the base of a team that is capable of playing an entertaining brand of rugby which fits with the BaaBaas tradition of innovation and flair and playing with pure guts and heart."
More players will be added to the squad, which will be captained by Wanganui's veteran loose forward Peter Rowe, at a later date.
Gatland junior earned his place in the squad on the back of his performances for North Harbour in the National Provincial Championships.
The 21-year-old was named on the bench for the Super Rugby match against the Otago Highlanders last weekend but failed to get on the pitch.
The Barbarians clash should be the easiest of the 10 the Lions play in New Zealand in June and July with three tests and matches against all five Super Rugby franchises as well as the Maori All Blacks to follow.
New Zealand Barbarians core squad:
Forwards - Aiden Ross (Bay of Plenty), Tolu Fahamokioa (Wellington), Sam Anderson-Heather (Otago), Epalahame Faiva (Waikato), Marcel Renata (Auckland), Quinten Strange (Tasman)Joshua Goodhue (Northland), Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (Manawatu), Mitchell Brown (Taranaki), Matthew Matich (Northland), Peter Rowe (Wanganui)Backs - Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau), Jack Stratton (Canterbury), Bryn Gatland (North Harbour), Jonathan Fa'auli (Taranaki), Jonah Lowe (Hawke's Bay), Sevuloni Reece (Waikato), Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau)Junior Ngaluafe (Southland)
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Andrew Both)