Gatland wields heavy axe for final Test
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: British & Irish Lions Head Coach, Warren Gatland, has made six changes to the starting XV which lost to the Springboks last Saturday in Cape Town.
The defeat sees the Lions Series level at 1-1 going into this weekend’s final Test match.
The Tour’s leading try-scorer, Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales), makes his Lions Test debut on the right wing joining Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) who keeps his place on the left. Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) is added at fullback to complete the back three.
Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) is included at inside centre to win his first Test cap, joining Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) who switches to 13.
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Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) is retained at flyhalf with Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) starting at scrumhalf having been named as a replacement last weekend.
In the pack, there are two changes to the front-row with injury-free Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) taking his place on the loosehead to make his Lions Test debut alongside Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales), who is promoted from the bench to start his first Test of the Tour at hooker.
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) continues on the tighthead to win his sixth-successive Test cap.
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) is named as captain to win his 12th consecutive cap moving him alongside Graham Price (1977 – 1983) and Mike Gibson (1966 – 1974) in the list of most Lions Test appearances. The iconic Welshman is again partnered in the second row by Maro Itoje (Saracens, England).
The back row remains the same with Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) at blind side flanker, Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) on the open side and Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) at No. 8.
On the bench, Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales), Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland), and Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) feature for the first time in the Test Series and will all win their first Lions cap should they take the field. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) is included subject to the outcome of a disciplinary hearing.
“The matchday 23 have an incredibly special opportunity in front of them – to seal a Lions Series victory in South Africa,” said Gatland.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than this and we’re excited by the challenge that faces us on Saturday.
“We’ve no excuses from last week, the Springboks put us under pressure in the second half and deserved the win. We have to be much better than that second half performance, and I believe we will be.”
British and Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Ali Price, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Captain), 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Finn Russell, 23 Elliot Daly
Date: Saturday, August 7
Venue: Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 18.00 (17.00 BST; 16.00 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Nic Berry (Australia)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)