BRITISH LIONS RUGBY: Liam Williams named in unchanged team for Eden Park showdown
Liam Williams has shaken off his leg concern to allow the British and Irish Lions to name an unchanged team for Saturday's Test series decider against New Zealand.
The Wales full-back sat out part of training on Wednesday, with assistant coach Neil Jenkins admitting he had “tightness” in his leg, but the 26-year-old has still been named in the Lions’ line-up for the third Test.
Sam Warburton again leads the tourists from blindside flanker, as the Lions field the same matchday 23 that edged the All Blacks 24-21 in Wellington last weekend to square the series at 1-1.
The All Blacks have not lost at Eden Park since 1994, and have not lost a home Test series since 1986 - but head coach Warren Gatland firmly believes the Lions can now claim just their second-ever series win in New Zealand.
“This is a huge chance for this group of players to show their abilities and reap the benefits of the work everyone has put in,” said Lions boss Gatland.
“It is their chance to make Lions history.”
The ability to select pacy strike-runner Williams will be relief to Gatland, who has appeared happy with the balance of the back three after moving the Saracens-bound flyer into the 15 shirt for the Test series.
Williams did not complete Wednesday’s training session at Queenstown Events Centre, with Lions kicking coach Jenkins later insisting: “It’s probably precautionary, just a little bit of tightness.”
Gatland admitted he was pleased to be able to select the exact same match day 23 that featured in the second Test.
“It is not very often on a Lions tour that you get to pick the same 23 for the following game,” said Gatland.
“We felt we should reward the players for the result and the courage that they showed in coming from behind from 18-9 down, digging themselves out of a hole and then finishing strongly in that last 10 to 15 minutes.
“There are some players who are pretty disappointed not to be selected and I understand that. It is what you would expect from competitive top athletes, they back themselves. But we have stressed all along that this is not all about the 23.”
LIONS: L Williams (Wales), A Watson (England), J Davies (Wales), O Farrell, E Daly (both England), J Sexton, C Murray (both Ireland), M Vunipola, J George (both England), T Furlong (Ireland), M Itoje (England), A W Jones, S Warburton (both Wales, capt), S O’Brien (Ireland), T Faletau (Wales).
Replacements: K Owens (Wales), J McGrath (Ireland), K Sinckler (England), C Lawes (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), R Webb (Wales), B Te’o, J Nowell (both England).