But should he lose out to O'Brien, Gatland does have options to lead the side.
AUCKLAND, June 15 The Barrett brothers are set to become the first trio of siblings to play in the same test for New Zealand after being named in the All Blacks squad to play Samoa at Eden Park on Friday.
The tourists face the world champions in the first Test in Auckland on Saturday, 24 June.
It starts with the 1888 Native team that won 80 percent of the 107 games it played on a 14 month tour of the British Isles. As a result, he may not be in contention to play in the first Test either. Ardie Savea will lose out at No 8 to captain Kieran Read but Codie Taylor is expected to start next week too, in the absence of Dane Coles who is recovering from concussion. "He leads by example and is an inspiration to his teammates". I use that word.it is not a selfish game but sometimes you have to play well when you need to play well and that day I played all right. But he said on Thursday that a prospective match-up with the All Blacks was unremarkable in his eyes, and comparable to matches against Australia or South Africa.
Canterbury Crusaders lock Scott, who played four tests previous year, is also on the bench for the game which was organised to help the All Blacks prepare for their test series against the British and Irish Lions, which starts on June 24.
Following on from tonight's game and another against Wales next week, Samoa enter the the Pacific Nations Cup which also doubles as the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers where they'll face fierce rivals Fiji and Tonga.
"The Samoans are always a challenge and will play with a high level of physicality and skill".
"His counter-attacking and scoring tries has improved significantly, that's what we need". We've had a good week and are really looking forward to this match.
"I think he is about to bring a few extra players out to give himself the ability to play two squads", Hansen said.
Never shy about indulging in possible mind games, Hansen's latest say on all things Lions was to claim Gatland's men now possess a clear split between the Test line-up and the midweek men.
Tickets to the American Express Pasifika Challenge are still available from ticketmaster.co.nz or 0800-111999.
However lock Wyn Jones, who captained against the Crusaders, did not even make the matchday 23, with Gatland preferring England's Maro Itoje in the second row backed by Iain Henderson on the bench.
For Manu Samoa, this match is as much a warm up for them as it is the All Blacks.
After taking on the Highlanders in Dunedin last time out, the Lions return to New Zealand's North Island - it's certainly a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.