Rugby in Munster | Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray among Lions substitutes
Munster’s men Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray have been named as substitutes for the British and Irish Lions as they face South Africa in the first match of their three-test series on Saturday (5pm).
His compatriot from Munster Damian de Allende starts at the interior center for South Africa.
Tour captain Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) will captain the Lions after a shoulder dislocation suffered in the Tourists’ 28-10 win over Japan at Murrayfield Stadium just 24 years ago days.
In doing so, the Welsh lock will win his tenth consecutive test cap for the Lions in Cape Town, placing him in an illustrious list of Lions legends for making 10 or more test appearances, including Gareth Edwards (10), Graham Price ( 12), Mike Gibson (12) Dickie Jeeps (13) and Willie-John McBride (17). Jones is however the first to play 10 Tests for the famous touring team in the professional era.
The iconic Welshman will be joined in second row by Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) who claims his fourth consecutive selection in the Lions Test.
Elsewhere, Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) and Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) make up the first row.
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) folds down on the blind side to win her third Lions test appearance, having won her previous two off the bench in the second and third tests in New Zealand in 2017. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) is named on the open side, with Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) filling out the No.8 jersey.
After impressing against the DHL Stormers last Saturday, scrum half Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) joins No 10 Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) in the back berths.
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland), who made his comeback from a hamstring injury last weekend, joins forces with Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) in midfield.
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) wins his fourth Lions Test cap as he takes his place on the wing against Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland), with fellow Scottish fellow, Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) ), rounding the side at the back.
The starting XV includes three Scots for the first time since the 1997 tour of South Africa when current Lions assistant coach Gregor Townsend was named alongside Alan Tait and Tom Smith for the first and second tests .
“In my four tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the most difficult test selection I’ve been involved in,” said Gatland.
“We couldn’t have asked for more from the players so far; they all raised their hands and made choosing a starting XV incredibly difficult. In truth, we would have been happy with a number of different combinations out of the 23, however, we are very happy with which side we settled on.
“We know what we’re up against on Saturday. It will be a showdown, there is no doubt about it. We will have to face physically and be ready to go from the first whistle. When we played SA ‘A’ last week, we probably took a little too long to get into the game, something we can’t afford to do again this weekend.
“We have to make sure we play in the right areas of the pitch, don’t give them easy territory and take our chances when they come.
“While the stands will be empty at Cape Town Stadium, we know that Lions fans from all home countries will be cheering us on at home. We will do our best to achieve victory.
The highly anticipated clash against the reigning world champions is the first of three Tests matches to be broadcast live and exclusively on Sky Sports.
SOUTH AFRICA v BRITISH AND 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 (Scarlet, 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 (Scarlet, 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 (Scarlet, Wales) # 833