Is this the Lions team to match the All Blacks?

The Telegraph's rugby writer Mick Cleary has chosen what he thinks should be the Lions starting XV to face the All Blacks in the first test on June 24 at Eden Park.

The British and Irish Lions begin their tour against the New Zealand Barbarians on June 3 before their first real test against the Blues four days later when the tourists will be expected to put out their stronger starting side.

According to Cleary, seven England players should start for the Lions, with four Irishman, three Welsh and a lone Scotsman making the cut. However it's expected Dylan Hartley would get the nod ahead of Welsh hooker Ken Owens while England's Maro Itoje might be a coin-flip away from leap-frogging Ireland's Peter O'Mahony into the side.


Seven of the suggested starting XV have tasted victory over the All Blacks. England's Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola all played in the Twickenham win over the All Blacks in 2012 while Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray started for Ireland in the side's victory against the All Blacks in Chicago last year.

The suggested starting XV has 713 combined tests between them, including six players who've fronted for the Lions before. A possible All Blacks XV could have close to 850 combined tests.

The Lions will be playing their 12th series against the All Blacks and are aiming to win a series in New Zealand for just the second time. They've lost 11 of their last 12 tests against the All Blacks, going back to 1977.