Lions fans will not know many of the NZ Barbarians Provincial XV squad to face the tourists in the June 3 opener in Whangarei.
Not unless they watched a lot of Mitre 10 Cup and First XV rugby in the last two years. The Barbarians side is incomplete, with just 19 named today at the announcement at the Eden Park clubrooms. To come are a tighthead prop, a loose forward, a centre and a wing.
"We've got people in mind to fill those spots, but some are under an injury cloud or still involved with franchises," says coach Clayton McMillan of Bay of Plenty, who will be praying his men do not succumb to injury in the next few weeks, even if he does have a large secondary list to draw upon in such circumstances.
"In some ways it was an easy side to pick. A lot of the guys were strong performers in the Mitre 10 Cup. The challenge was trying to put the jigsaw together to get all the provinces represented," McMillan says.
Of note is the selection of two Northland players, lock Josh Goodhue and loose forward Matt Matich. The former is in the Blues wider training group, while Matich went to the Brisbane Tens in February.
Veteran Wanganui flanker Peter Rowe, a club member of the Barbarians, is has come out of retirement to be the sole Heartland Championship representative.
Goodhue is one of several fringe Super Rugby players, including Blues hooker Hame Faiva, Chiefs halfback Jonathan Taumateine and midfielder Johnny Fa'auli, and Blues No 10 Bryn Gatland, whose status may change dependent on injuries over the coming weeks.
Canterbury halfback Jack Stratton was yesterday named captain of the New Zealand Universities.
In all, it looks a useful, if not overly formidable side at this stage, and if the Lions cannot put at least 20 points on them then it will be a very long tour for Warren Gatland's men.
Whangarei deputy mayor Sharon Morgan, the widow of former All Blacks midfielder Joe Morgan, and also the first female president of the Northland union, was on hand. She is delighted to see Whangarei kick off the tour in what will be Toll Stadium's biggest rugby occasion since the 1993 Lions tour opener at Okara Park, with an honourable mention for the 2010 Maori v Barbarians thriller which marked the re-opening of the new stadium.
NZ Barbarians Provincial XV:
Forwards: Aiden Ross (Bay of Plenty), Sam Anderson-Heather (Otago), Hame Faiva (Waikato), Marcel Renata (Auckland), Quinten Strange (Tasman), Josh 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), Sevu Reece (Waikato), Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau), Junior Ngaluafe (Southland)