Gatland's son starts against B&I Lions
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The pride of New Zealand rugby provinces will be in full noise when the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians team opens the NZ Lions Series against the British & Irish Lions on Saturday.
Otago's Sam Anderson-Heather will captain the team which features representatives from 14 provincial rugby unions. Heartland rugby veteran and Wanganui provincial stalwart Peter Rowe is vice-captain.
A powerful forward pack will be complemented by an exciting backline, featuring Bryn Gatland, who is the son of British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland, at flyhalf and veteran Dwayne Sweeney at inside centre.
Provincial Barbarians coach Clayton McMillan said he is pleased with how the squad has come together this week.
"When we first looked at putting together a squad, the initial process was around understanding what sort of game we wanted to play and the type of player that would meet the profile of that game plan.
"It's always going to be pretty hard when you are bringing a group together from four corners of New Zealand but from what I can see and the feedback we've got, the boys have come together really well," said McMillan.
The team assembled in Auckland on Saturday and were officially welcomed into Whangarei with a stirring powhiri on Monday.
"We've kept things relatively simple with the emphasis on creating an environment where the players can express themselves and represent their provinces with pride. We recognise it's going to be a hard game but we have plenty to play for and the boys can't wait to get out there.
"The unique and special occasion for bringing this team together has forced the boys to bond quite quickly, and they've enjoyed a fantastic week here in Whangarei," he said.
NZ Provincial Barbarians: 15 Luteru Laulala, 14 Sam Vaka, 13 Inga Finau, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Jack Stratton, 8 Mitchell Dunshea, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 James Tucker, 5 Keepa Mewett, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Oliver Jager, 2 Sam Anderson-Heather (captain), 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Tolu Fahamokioa, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Matt Matich, 20 Peter Rowe, 21 Richard Judd, 22 Jonah Lowe, 23 Junior Ngaluafe
Date: Saturday, June 3
Venue: Okara Park, Whangarei
Kick-off: 19.35 (08.35 UK & Ireland time; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)