Although he was unwilling to confirm as much, coach Clive Woodward is clearly using this game as a final trial game before confirming his starting line up to play against Graham Henry's side in Christchurch on June 25th. Jonny Wilkinson, Jason Robinson and Neil Back all get their first starts whilst captain Brian O'Driscoll is one of four players starting their second game in four days.
Thomas said: "It's a first opportunity for me on the tour and I would hope to take it with both hands. We are getting ever closer to the first Test so it's vital that we play and push ourselves under the noses of the selectors. Personally, I have enjoyed my first few days here, but it won't really hit home until I get out there on Wednesday."
With the dust having settled on Saturday's defeat at the hands of the Maori in Hamilton, Woodward is keen to concentrate his efforts on Wednesday night rather than reflect on what might have been at the Waikato Stadium. However, through the confidence of moving forward, there is a definate edge about the party and a probable realisation that the squad is facing a much sterner test than it could ever have predicted.
For Jenkins, who starts for the second time on the tour, Wednesday's game represents the most important of his career. A decent game against the crack NPC side will leave Woodward with a tough decision to make at loose head. Anything less will allow the former England coach to justify his possible selection of Andrew Sheridan. Julian White plays on the other side of the front row whilst Danny Grewcock and Ben Kay come together in the second row.
"It will be another massive examination for us," said Woodward. "However, we are looking forward to the challenge and to improving on what was a pretty modest effort on Saturday."
British & Irish Lions v Wellington
Wednesday 15th June 2005, 8.10am (BST)
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
British & Irish Lions Team v Wellington
Josh LEWSEY (London Wasps, England)
Jason ROBINSON (Sale Sharks, England)
Brian O'DRISCOLL (Leinster, Ireland) (Captain)
Gavin HENSON (Ospreys, Wales)
Gareth THOMAS (Toulouse, Wales)
Jonny WILKINSON (Newcastle Falcons, England)
Dwyane PEEL (Scarlets, Wales)
Gethin JENKINS (Blues, Wales)
Shayne BYRNE (Leinster, Ireland)
Julian WHITE (Leicester Tigers, England)
Danny GREWCOCK (Bath, England)
Ben KAY (Leicester Tigers, England)
Simon EASTERBY (Scarlets, Ireland)
Neil BACK (Leicester Tigers)
Martin CORRY (Leicester Tigers, England) (Vice Captain)
Gordon BULLOCH (Glasgow, Scotland)
Matt STEVENS (Bath, England)
Paul O'CONNELL (Munster, Ireland)
Lewis MOODY (Leicester Tigers, England)
Chris CUSITER (Borders, Scotland)
Stephen JONES (Clermont Auvergne, Wales)
Shane HORGAN (Leinster, Ireland)