Three Ireland stars named in Lions team as Conor Murray captains side
This one is set to be a cracker.
After some phoney wars on the 2021 British & Irish Lions Tour, so far, the tourists will get a real test against South Africa 'A' on Wednesday. To that end, Warren Gatland has named a strong Lions team.
Lions tour captain Conor Murray will lead the side from the start for the first time since he was given the role, after Alun Wyn Jones' injury. He starts with Dan Biggar in what may well be the Test 9/10 combination.
Try machine Josh Adams gets another start while Louis Rees-Zammit is named on the right wing with Anthony Watson at fullback. Maro Itoje has recovered from his stomach bug and starts in the second row with Iain Henderson.
Gatland has not included recent call-up Marcus Smith and it will fall to Elliot Daly, named on the bench, to cover outhalf should Biggar need to be subbed off. Conor Murray could, in a pinch, cover the 10 spot.
"Wednesday’s game against South Africa ‘A’ will be our toughest encounter since we arrived here and we’re looking forward to it," the Kiwi said. "We expect them to be physical in the contact area and look to test us at scrum time.
"I think we’ve benefitted from playing at altitude in the first three games. While the boys have felt it in their lungs, they’ll be all the better for it now we’re at sea level.
"As we move towards the business end of the tour, it’s pleasing to see so many players putting in some stand-out performances. As coaches we want the players to make Test selection as hard as possible and that’s we’re seeing."
There are starts for Josh Navidi and Tom Curry again while Gatland has gone for Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Kyle Sinckler in his front row.
LIONS XV (vs. South Africa A)
15. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) #846
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) #837
11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) #836
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
9. Conor Murray – captain (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) #842
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825
5. Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) #808
6. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) #854
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) #779
REPLACEMENTS: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Zander Fagerson, Adam Beard, Tadhg Beirne, Sam Simmonds, Gareth Davies, Elliot Daly.
The South Africa 'A' team will be announced later today, with several top Springbok stars, including Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe, set to be included.
LISTEN TO HOUSE OF RUGBY'S LIONS SERIES: EPISODE 3