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Four Welshmen bid for immortality with Lions

British & Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones. Credit: INPHO

Four Welshmen bid for immortality with Lions

Four Welshmen will bid to help the British & Irish Lions seal an historic Test series victory over South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday.

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Warren Gatland’s side went 1-0 up with two matches left to play with a 22-17 victory in the first Test but there is still plenty to play for.

The Lions know if they win on Saturday they will have sealed a series victory and head coach Gatland has made three changes to his starting XV.

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It includes captain Alun Wyn Jones who will win his 11th successive Test cap. His Wales team-mate Dan Biggar also starts at fly-half.

Welsh forwards Ken Owens and Taulupe Faletau will have big roles to play from the bench.

The Lions have lost just two Test series in their history after winning the first Test (against New Zealand in 1930 and Australia in 2001).

“As always, selection was incredibly tough,” said Gatland.

“However, we’ve made the changes we think are the right calls for the weekend’s game.

“It’ll be another tight contest. We know the Springboks will be hurting and they’ll throw everything at us on Saturday, but I think there is plenty more to come from us too.

“We feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test and I would expect us to improve.”

Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland), Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) and Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) come into the side for the second Test.

Jones is partnered by England’s Maro Itoje who was man of the match in the first Test.

Vunipola packs down with hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) and Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) to complete the front row.

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) wins his fourth Lions Test cap on the blindside joining Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) and Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) at No. 8.

Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales), who will play fly-half subject to completing the return-to-play protocols and assessment by an independent concussion consultant, partners scrum-half Murray.

Harris joins Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) in midfield to win his first Test cap while the back three of Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England), Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) and Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) remains unchanged.

Faletau is added to the bench and will win his fifth Test cap should he enter the fray.

“It’s the biggest game on the tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it,” said Gatland.

“As players and coaches, these are the games you want to be involved in. We’re relishing the opportunity to face the Springboks again on Saturday and potentially seal a series win.”

SOUTH AFRICA v THE BRITISH & IRISH LIONS

Saturday 31 July 2021

Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town

Kick-off: 5pm (BST)

Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816
Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #824
Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841
Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) #787
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818
Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825
Alun Wyn Jones – captain (Ospreys, Wales) #761
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853
Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839

Replacements:

Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814
Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838
Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) #779
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #843
Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) #780
Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822

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