British & Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland has announced his team to battle South Africa this weekend at Cape Town Stadium.
Only 24 days ago, Alun Wyn Jones suffered a dislocated shoulder during the Lions first game of the tour against Japan on home soil. The Osprey will lead the Lions this weekend pairing alongside Maro Itoje in the second row.
The Welsh lock will subsequently win his tenth-successive Test Cap for the Lions, becoming the first man to do so during the professional age.
“In my four Tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the hardest Test selection I have been involved in,” explained Gatland.
Wyn Jones and Tadhg Furlong are joined by Luke Cowan-Dickie to make up the front row. Cowan-Dickie earns his spot after a formidable performance against the DHL Stormers last Saturday.
Englishmen Courtney Lawes and Tom Curry are placed on the flanks with Irishmen Jack Conan pulling on the No. 8 shirt.
Like Cowan-Dickie, Ali Price retains the scrum-half berth after an impressive performance against the Western Province franchise last Saturday. Dan Biggar comes out on top for the fly-half position leaving Farrell the No. 22 jersey.
Robbie Henshaw shrugs off a hamstring injury to form partnership with the, so far impressive, Elliot Daly in the Midfield.
Gatland shows faith in Anthony Watson, who will earn his fourth Lions Test cap, and South-African born Duhan Van der Merwe to cover the wings. Stuart Hogg, who took on the captaincy role last Saturday, will sit behind at 15.
For the first time in 24 years, the starting XV will include three Scots.
“We need to make sure we play in the right areas of the field, not give them easy territory and take our chances when they come.”
“While the stands will be empty in Cape Town Stadium, we know Lions fans from across the home nations will be cheering us on back home. We’ll do our best to get the win.”
The first of three tests in the Castle Lager Lions Series will kick off at 5pm BST exclusively on Sky Sports.
SOUTH AFRICA v THE BRITISH & IRISH LIONS:
15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816
13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822
12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #824
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #843
1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) #842
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825
5. Alun Wyn Jones – captain (Ospreys, Wales) #761
6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853
8.Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839
16. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
17. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840
18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814
19. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838
20. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) #847
21. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
22. Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) #780
23. Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) #833