Peter O’Mahony to lead Lions against Maori side with Warburton benched

He will unveil what he calls a near-Test strength side on Thursday for this weekend’s clash with a quality Maori All Blacks side in Rotorua.”I want the players to be the best they can be”, Cooper said.All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo burst past two tackle attempts to score the first try of the match after 26 minutes, a score that was swiftly answered by England centre Jonathan Joseph who found a gap between the Highlanders defence.McBride toured with the Lions five times and played in every Test of the 1971 series, which remains the only Lions side to win a series in New Zealand.O’Mahony smiled, as did Gatland alongside him.”There’s always those discussions, but we felt Owen’s had a bit of rugby at the moment”, Gatland explained.”He’s on the bench and he’s covering midfield options, so we could end up with the 10/12 combination”.A turning point in Gatland’s time as coach was when he and the Irish management made wholesale changes and dipped heavily into the Munster zeitgeist for the rejuvenating 44-22 win over Scotland in 2000, and he clearly hasn’t forgotten.Maori All Blacks: J Lowe; N Milner-Skudder, M Proctor, C Ngatai, R Ioane; D McKenzie, T Kerr-Barlow; K Hames, A Dixon (capt), B May, J Wheeler, T Franklin, A Ioane, E Dixon, L Messam.Replacements: 16-Hikawera Elliot, 17-Chris Eves, 18-Marcel Renata, 19-Leighton Price, 20-Kara Pryor, 21-Bryn Hall, 22- Ihaia West, 23-Rob Thompson.Wales powerhouse Davies is the favourite to wear the Lions’ 13 shirt in the first Test against the All Blacks on June 24.Warburton returned from a minor ankle injury to play over an hour in the midweek defeat by the Highlanders in Dunedin.The failure to capitalise on their try-scoring opportunities has been the Lions’ greatest shortcoming so far on tour, but Warburton, Tommy Seymour and Jonathan Joseph crossed against the Highlanders.Leigh Halfpenny replaces the injured Stuart Hogg at fullback, while Liam Williams makes way for Anthony Watson on the wing.Up front, Mako Vunipola is joined by hooker Jamie George and Irish tighthead Tadhg Furlong, with Maro Itoje and George Kruis behind them.Gatland says a fixture against the Maori is one of the “unique spectacles in world rugby”.In a powerful backline, winger Nehe Milner-Skudder has a chance to play himself back into the All Blacks after nearly 16 months out with a shoulder injury and a broken foot.With a few Kiwis named in the Lions team Hansen suggested his rival Gatland should have opted to select a few more New Zealanders in his squad.”But we feel that overall we are building well”. All you are really looking for is a bit of consistency and I am not sure we necessarily got it.