British and Irish Lions: Sam Warburton will captain side against the Highlanders

Sam Warburton
Warburton captained the Lions in the tour-opening victory over the Provincial Barbarians

British and Irish Lions tour captain Sam Warburton will lead the team in Tuesday's match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The flanker has recovered from an ankle niggle to line up alongside James Haskell and CJ Stander in the back row.

Fly half Dan Biggar has been passed fit to start after concussion.

The Highlanders are without All Blacks Aaron Smith and Ben Smith, but internationals Liam Coltman, Lima Sopoaga, and Waisake Naholo will play.

After starting in the tour opener against the Provincial Barbarians, Warburton missed the 12-3 victory over the Crusaders on Saturday.

Biggar failed a head injury assessment in the defeat by the Blues last Tuesday, but has passed the requisite concussion protocols, while Jared Payne is fit to start at full-back despite an ongoing calf complaint.

Payne is joined by Jack Nowell and Tommy Seymour in the back three, with Jonathan Joseph and Robbie Henshaw in the midfield.

Biggar's fellow Welshman Rhys Webb is at scrum-half.

Courtney Lawes partners Iain Henderson in the second row, with Joe Marler, Rory Best and Kyle Sinckler re-forming the front row combination that started in the first game of the tour.

'A chance to put their hand up and perform'

"At this stage of the tour everyone has had a start and as coaches we are happy that all the players have had a chance to put their hand up and perform in the Lions jersey," said head coach Warren Gatland.

"We are building some momentum and we have improved with every game. We were obviously pleased with the win against the Crusaders, especially our defence and game management, but we know the Highlanders will be another massive test for us as a squad."

Lions squad to play Highlanders:

Team: Payne; Nowell; Joseph, Henshaw; Seymour; Biggar, Webb; Marler, Best, Sinckler; Lawes, Henderson; Haskell, Warburton (captain), Stander

Replacements: Owens, McGrath, Cole, Jones, Tipuric, Laidlaw, Farrell, Daly.

Waisake Naholo
Winger Waisake Naholo - a 2015 World Cup winner - is one of three All Blacks in the Highlanders XV

'A special moment in any rugby player's life to play against the Lions'

The Highlanders (previously named Otago Highlanders) may only be ranked fourth of the five New Zealand franchises in this year's tournament but the 2015 Super Rugby champions have won 10 of their 14 matches and are assured of at least a play-off berth.

The Lions beat a provincial Otago side 30-19 the last time they toured New Zealand in 2005 and Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod is anticipating another big occasion at the compact yet noisy Forsyth Barr Stadium.

"For some of these guys this will be the biggest rugby day of their careers, and it is a special moment in any rugby player's life to play against the Lions," he said.

"It's going to be a massive occasion for the club and our supporters."

The forwards are a strength for the Highlanders, who will field a virtually unchanged starting pack from the side beaten 25-22 by Crusaders in their last Super Rugby match on 3 June.

Highlanders squad

Team: Buckman; Naholo, Fekitoa, Walden, Li; Sopoaga, Hammington; Lienert-Brown, Coltman, Tokolahi; Ainley, Hemopo; Hunt, Evans, Whitelock (captain),

Replacements: Pleasants-Tate, Seiuli, Halanukonuka, Dickson, Lentjes, Renton, Banks, Osborne.

Lions tour
3 JuneProvincial BarbariansWon 13-7
7 JuneBluesLost 22-16
10 JuneCrusadersWon 12-3
13 JuneHighlanders
17 JuneMaori All Blacks
20 JuneChiefs
24 JuneNew Zealand
27 JuneHurricanes
1 JulyNew Zealand
8 JulyNew Zealand

All Blacks Read and Cruden fit to face Lions

Injured All Blacks' captain Kieran Read and fly-half Aaron Cruden have been ruled out of New Zealand's Test against Samoa on Friday but will be fit to face the Lions, coach Steve Hansen said on Sunday.

However, hooker Dane Coles - who has concussion problems - would not be considered, Hansen said, as the All Blacks assembled in Auckland.

Ryan Crotty is "touch and go" but "everyone else is pretty good", Hansen said.

Read had previously ruled himself out of the Samoa match as he recovers from a broken thumb, while Cruden damaged knee ligaments in Friday's Super Rugby match between the Waikato Chiefs and the Wellington Hurricanes.

Brodie Retallick and Ben Smith were both said to be "very good" after recent concussion problems.

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