British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has challenged full-back Leigh Halfpenny to show the attacking side of his game against the Maori All Blacks.
Saturday’s game in Rotorua is a chance for Wales and Toulon star Halfpenny to claim the 15 shirt for the first Test against new Zealand on 24 June.
“We know how strong he is defensively and positionally… obviously his goal-kicking as well,” said Gatland.
“But it’s the attacking threat we’re looking for him to add.”
Halfpenny played all three Tests in Australia in 2014, with his goal-kicking proving crucial as the Lions won the series 2-1.
The 28-year-old former Cardiff Blues player scored 49 points in the three Tests against the Wallabies, all from the boot, and he was named man of the series.
But with Johnny Sexton, Elliot Daley and Owen Farrell – although the England man was forced to withdraw against Maori through injury – all providing reliable goal-kicking options for the Lions in New Zealand, Halfpenny cannot rely on his metronomic boot and brave defence alone to guarantee a Test place.
The Welshman’s five tries for Toulon last season was his best return for the French club since joining them in 2014 and that has not gone unnoticed by Gatland.
“His counter-attacking and scoring tries has improved significantly, that’s kind of what we need from a 15,” added the coach.
“Saturday is an opportunity as well for him to show what experience he has got.”
Halfpenny is joined by Wales team-mates Jonathan Davies, George North and Taulupe Faletau in the starting XV against the Maori, with captain Sam Warburton, Dan Biggar and Ken Owens on the bench.
Wales back-row Ross Moriarty was not considered for selection as he continues his recovery from a back spasm suffered in the first game of the tour.
But Gatland says the Gloucester forward’s chance is likely to come against the Chiefs in Waikato next Tuesday, 20 June.
“He’s been unlucky, he hasn’t trained for about five days with that [injury], today [Thursday] was the first training session he had,” Gatland said.
“We felt that – particularly with this game – the players that had been training on a regular basis and had been involved in the last couple of games, were the players that deserved to be selected for this game.
“He’ll take part probably next week in Tuesday’s match to get a run out.”