Focus remains on Lions as Gatland asks his men to "lay down a marker"

The tourists take on the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians this Saturday

Warren Gatland

Image: David Davies/PA Wire/PA Images

Warren Gatland expects his side to "lay down a marker" during the British and Irish Lions first Test match of their tour of New Zealand.

Gatland has included three Irishmen in the starting XV as they open their campaign against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians this Saturday.

The former Ireland head coach revealed that the players starting the game have known they would be chosen for a week and the game gives them a chance to set the right tone for their upcoming games.

"It's a great opportunity for the team who have been selected for the first match to lay down a marker," he said. "I think for everyone, the dream is to be involved in the Test matches. 

"It's a chance for this 15 or this 23 to go out and do just that. Hopefully get the tour off to a good start."

Lining out on the other side of the pitch will be Gatland's son, Bryn, who could be handed a starting berth this weekend.

Gatland senior says he's looking forward to the possibility of coming up against his son.

"I spoke to him last night and he's been enjoying the week. I think we'll catch up tomorrow, but we haven't spoken too much about the game. 

"Obviously he's very excited about the opportunity to play against us. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

"He can expect to make a few tackles this week."

Captain Sam Warburton says the Lions will be focused solely on themselves for the upcoming games.

"The focus for this game will be very much upon ourselves because we've been together for such a short period of time to prepare," he said.

"We've got footage available to us of all the players picked in the squad, but it's hard to know what we'll come up against.

"The focus is very much on us going into this game. The guys who are playing have been together for two weeks. Those were the players who were always very likely to play this game. 

"We've had a long time to prepare for that."