British and Irish Lions 2017: Owen Farrell will be fit to face All Blacks - Warren Gatland

Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell was withdrawn from the squad to face the Maori All Blacks
Chiefs v British and Irish Lions
Venue: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton Date: Tuesday, 20 June Kick-off: 08:35 BST
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says he is "confident" fly-half Owen Farrell will be fit for the first Test against New Zealand on Saturday.

Farrell, 25, was set to be on the bench in the 32-10 win over the Maori All Blacks on Saturday but was withdrawn after a quadriceps injury in training.

He will not feature on Tuesday against the Chiefs, with Gatland naming the six recent call-ups among his replacements.

"At a pinch he probably could have played [on Saturday]," said Gatland.

The Lions coach added that Farrell was withdrawn from the game in Rotorua as a precautionary measure.

And speaking about the first Test on Saturday, Gatland added: "I've always been confident about Owen being fit for the weekend.

"I've never not been confident."

Farrell's England team-mate Jonathan Joseph could also be involved against the All Blacks at Eden Park, with the 26-year-old centre left out of the squad to face the Chiefs in Waikato.

Asked if Joseph has a chance for the first Test, Gatland added: "Well he's played pretty well for us."

Pressure on Warburton?

Tour captain Sam Warburton, who missed the 12-3 win over the Crusaders last weekend after rolling his ankle, started on the bench in Rotorua on Saturday.

Lions legend and BBC Sport's rugby union analyst Jeremy Guscott does not expect the Wales flanker to start the first Test.

Gatland said the back-row unit of Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Taulupe Faletau who started those fixtures have done "exceptionally well".

"There's no doubt that there's some pressure on certain players and certain combinations have gone well," said the New Zealander, when asked about Warburton's situation.

"For Sam, look, we were hoping he was going to be part of the 23 against the Crusaders. Unfortunately he rolled his ankle a little bit so hadn't recovered in time.

"There will be some tough debates and discussions to have on the final make-up of what the back-row is going to be for Saturday."

Late call-ups make bench for Chiefs game

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Gatland has devalued Lions jersey - Guscott

Allan Dell, Kristian Dacey, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Gareth Davies and Finn Russell were all drafted into the Lions squad by Gatland over the weekend.

All six make the bench for the game against the Chiefs, while Ireland hooker Rory Best captains the side.

"We are five games into the tour and there is still a lot to play for," said Gatland.

Iain Henderson, Greig Laidlaw, Dan Biggar and Elliot Daly start having come off the bench on Saturday against the Maori All Blacks.

However, the bulk of the squad that beat the Maori are preparing for the first Test against the All Blacks on Saturday.

"We are here to win a Test series and we have brought cover for the replacements' bench so we can limit the number of players who need to double up, which is tough to do at this level of rugby," added Gatland.

"Those involved on Tuesday will be playing not only for themselves in terms of further selection but also for the whole squad."

Gatland earlier defended his six call-ups after England coach Eddie Jones said they should be on "merit" rather than geographical proximity.

Four Wales players were summoned from nearby Auckland, and two Scotland players from Australia, while Jones' England squad are currently on tour in Argentina.

Lions team to face Chiefs:

L Williams (Wales); J Nowell (England), J Payne (Ireland), R Henshaw (Ireland), E Daly (England); D Biggar (Wales), G Laidlaw (Scotland); J Marler (England), R Best (Ireland), D Cole (England), I Henderson (Ireland), C Lawes (England), J Haskell (England), J Tipuric (Wales), C Stander (Ireland).

Replacements:

K Dacey (Wales), A Dell (Scotland), T Francis (Wales), C Hill (Wales), AW Jones (Wales), G Davies (Wales), F Russell (Scotland), T Seymour (Scotland).

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