B&I Lions surprise with skipper for tour opener
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland surprised when he named his team for the opening match of the tour – against the Johannesburg-based Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg will captain the B&I Lions in the opening Ellis Park tour opener.
He will lead an all-new starting XV to the one that defeated Japan 28-10 in Edinburgh last weekend.
Only Josh Adams retains his place, on the left wing.
Louis Rees-Zammit, Chris Harris and Jonny Hill are all set to make their Lions debuts at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, in the first of eight tour games.
Replacements Luke Cowan-Dickie, Zander Fagerson, Sam Simmonds and Gareth Davies are also in line to make their first appearances in the famous red jersey should they join the fray on Saturday.
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“It’s good to have arrived in Johannesburg and get the Tour underway,” said Gatland.
“We had a pleasing win last week up in Edinburgh, but there’s still plenty we need to get right on Saturday.
“I’ve been encouraged by the way the boys have trained this week.
“I feel it’s gone up a level from where we were in Jersey and we’re starting to see a better understanding of some of our tactics.
“There are some new player combinations for us to have a look at this Saturday – which is good information for us as the Test Series approaches.
“My congratulations to all those playing their first game as a Lion, and also to Hoggy too – who I am sure will lead the side by example.”
British and Irish Lions: 15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price,
8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Bundee Aki, 23 Elliot Daly.
Date: Saturday, July 3
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 18.00 (17.00 BST; 16.00 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
TMO: Stuart Berry (South Africa)