Warren Gatland confirms exciting back-row for Lions' next match
"Players I haven't started yet, will start."
Warren Gatland is never really one for the mind games. He loves laying his cards out early and staring back at you until you blink.
On Test match week, some coaches prefer to wait until the last possible permitted moment - getting in just before the sanctioned cut-off. Gatland usually drops his on a Tuesday morning.
So, with a stacked Lions squad with him in South Africa, there is little subterfuge in the early exchanges. Gatland has already stated that he intends to give starts to all of his squad members in the first three games. After the Lions beat the Sigma Lions 56-14, at Ellis Park, he reiterated that line.
The Kiwi stated that Robbie Henshaw is definitely out of the Lions' next game, in four days' time, as he picked up 'a very, very mild hamstring strain' i training. Gatland did add that Henshaw could also miss next Saturday's game against the Bulls if the medical staff err on the side of caution.
Gatland also confirmed what his starting back row would be for Wednesday's game against the Cell C Sharks - Tom Curry, Josh Navidi and Sam Simmonds.
With Simmonds locking down the No.8 jersey - and getting a chance after Jack Conan and Toby Faletau - it remains to be seen who is handed the 6 and 7 jerseys. Curry and Navidi are versatile back-rows so Gatland may go with the England star at openside.
So far, 10 players have yet to start a game. Barring any training ground mishaps, that means Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan Dickie, Zander Fagerson, Adam Beard, Josh Navidi, Tom Curry, Sam Simmonds, Gareth Davies, Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson will all start.
We have taken a look at the squad, the minutes played and combinations to draw up a likely Lions XV for their next outing. The players in bold have not started on tour yet.
POSSIBLE LIONS XV (vs. Sharks)
15. Liam Williams
14. Anthony Watson
13. Elliot Daly
12. Bundee Aki
11. Duhan van der Merwe
10. Dan Biggar
9. Gareth Davies
1. Mako Vunipola
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie
3. Zander Fagerson
4. Iain Henderson
5. Adam Beard
6. Tom Curry
7. Josh Navidi
8. Sam Simmonds
LISTEN TO HOUSE OF RUGBY'S LIONS SERIES: EPISODE 2