WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Super Rugby commitments have forced selectors to make several changes to the Provincial Barbarians side that will face the British and Irish Lions in the opening match of their tour of New Zealand next week.
The Barbarians side are drawn principally from New Zealand’s semi-professional provincial competition, though coach Clayton McMillan was allowed to select players from the wider training groups of Super Rugby squads if they were available.
Six players -- Hame Faiva, Quentin Strange, Mitch Brown, Heiden Bedwell Curtis, Jonathan Taumateine and Johnny Fa‘auli -- were withdrawn by their Super Rugby teams after initially being named last month.
Bryn Gatland, the son of British and Irish Lions coach Warren, was retained in the Barbarians side despite having made his Super Rugby debut with the Auckland Blues.
“It’s great to see provincial players make the step-up to Super Rugby and put in some impressive performances,” McMillan told reporters.
”While we would have loved to have them involved in our campaign we recognise they are needed elsewhere but our coaching group is confident we have selected a strong group of players who will relish this opportunity to take on the British & Irish Lions.
“This is a huge occasion for our players and management and I know everyone is eager to get things underway and create history.”
The Barbarians match opens the tour on June 3 in Whangarei before the Lions play all five of New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchises, the Maori All Blacks and three tests against the All Blacks.
Provincial Barbarians Squad:
Forwards: Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty), Tolu Fahamokioa (Wellington), Sam Anderson-Heather (Otago), Andrew Makalio (Tasman), Marcel Renata (Auckland), Oliver Jager (Canterbury), Keepa Mewett (Bay of Plenty), Joshua Goodhue (Northland), James Tucker (Waikato), Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki), Matthew Matich (Northland), Peter Rowe (Wanganui)
Backs: Jack Stratton (Canterbury), Richard Judd (Bay of Plenty), Bryn Gatland (North Harbour), Dwayne Sweeney (Waikato Kaveinga Finau (Inga) (Canterbury), Jonah Lowe (Hawkes Bay) Sevuloni Reece (Waikato), Sam Vaka (Counties Manukau), Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau), Junior Ngaluafe (Southland)
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O'Brien