WASPS wing Christian Wade is set to make his British and Irish Lions debut this morning, just 10 days after his England bow, and has been backed by Wales’ record try scorer Shane Williams to prove he is not in Australia just to make up the numbers.
Wade, along with Williams and England team-mate Brad Barritt, were summoned Down Under by Lions head coach Warren Gatland at the weekend to add cover to the squad amid an injury crisis that threatens to shatter selection plans ahead of Saturday’s first Test, with backs Jamie Roberts, Brian O’Driscoll, George North, Jonny Sexton and Manu Tuilagi all struggling.
But with Wade poised to start against the Brumbies in Canberra, Williams believes his new team-mate possesses all the qualities required to make a big impact on the tour.
“He is a very talented player, new on the scene, but already raising eyebrows,” said Williams, who played on the two previous Lions tours. “He is obviously a massive talent and I enjoy the way he plays. He is a very aggressive runner, obviously very fast, and he enjoys taking defenders on.
“He is my kind of guy and I am looking forward to playing with him. He is more than capable of showing what he has got and being part of this Test series.”
Hooker Rory Best is set to captain the Lions in today’s final tour match before the Tests commence.
Late additions to the squad Billy Twelvetrees and Ryan Grant start, while Stuart Hogg deputises at fly-half.
TEAM V BRUMBIES
■ Kearney, Wade, Barritt, Twelvetrees, Williams, Hogg, B Youngs; Grant, Best, Stevens, Evans, Gray, O’Brien, Tipuric, Faletau
■ Replacements: Hibbard, Corbisiero, Cole, Parling, Lydiate, Murray, Farrell, Zebo