1 Jun 2017

Gatland vs Gatland for Lions opener

7:41 pm on 1 June 2017

It will be Gatland against Gatland in Whangarei on Saturday night as the British and Irish Lions kick off their tour of New Zealand against the Provincial Barbarians.

Bryn Gatland, left, and Warren Gatland

Bryn Gatland, left, and Warren Gatland - who said he was looking forward to see how his son played against the Lions. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

North Harbour first-five Bryn Gatland has been named to start for the Barbarians and will square off against his father Warren, the Lions coach, for family bragging rights.

At the Lions' first open training today, Warren Gatland implied the clash would not cause any awkwardness within the family.

"I spoke to him last night and he seems to be enjoying the week. I think we'll catch up tomorrow.

"We haven't spoken too much about the game, but he's pretty excited to play against us and I'm looking forward to seeing how he goes," Gatland said.

If anything he was aiming to make his son's game tougher putting New Zealand-born Ben Te'o second-five-eighth to match Bryn at number 10.

"Our focus is on us and on the first couple of games, looking at a number of combinations, that's important with the lack of preparation time."

New Zealand-born Gatland was also making it his job to educate his team about the country by watching movies and learning local customs.

Player Alun Wyn Jones said practising songs to sing as a response to Māori welcomes had brought the team closer together.

"Choir practice, loving it to be honest with you. I think 'Jerusalem' is the hardest one because it's got the most words.

"It's harder singing and learning the songs than it is learning the line-outs, but the more we practice the better we get, so watch this space," Wyn Jones said.

The Lions might be learning a lot about New Zealand but it seemed New Zealanders did not know a whole lot about them.

At a news conference today, Gatland was asked what he thought of a recent survey that found 78 percent of New Zealanders could not name one Lions player.

"I think most Kiwis think rugby in the northern hemisphere is still played in six inches of mud and pouring rain. That's our job: to come to New Zealand and earn some respect.

"If we can reduce that number from 78 to 77 percent then we've done our job," he said.

The Lions play 10 matches over 36 days, the first against the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei on Saturday.

North Harbour's Bryn Gatland kicks a conversion during the semi final.

North Harbour's Bryn Gatland kicks a conversion. Photo: Photosport

They are the favourites to win against a Barbarians side with a mixture of young provincial stars and stalwarts.

Otago's Sam Anderson-Heather will captain the Barbarians 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 a backline featuring Gatland at first five-eighth and veteran Dwayne Sweeney at second five-eighth.

The Barbarians team is:

1. Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty)

2. Sam Anderson-Heather - captain (Otago)

3. Oliver Jager (Canterbury)

4. Josh Goodhue (Northland)

5. Keepa Mewett (Bay of Plenty)

6. James Tucker (Waikato)

7. Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki)

8. Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury)

9. Jack Stratton (Canterbury)

10. Bryn Gatland (North Harbour)

11. Sevu Reece (Waikato)

12. Dwayne Sweeney (Waikato)

13. Inga Finau (Canterbury)

14. Sam Vaka (Counties Manukau)

15. Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau)

16. Andrew Makalio (Tasman)

17. Tolu Fahamokioa (Wellington)

18. Marcel Renata (Auckland)

19. Matt Matich (Northland)

20. Peter Rowe - vice captain (Wanganui)

21. Richard Judd (Bay of Plenty)

22. Jonah Lowe (Hawke's Bay)

23. Junior Ngaluafe (Southland)