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13 clubs feature in Lions 23, including Prem strugglers Worcester

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Worcester, the bottom side in last season’s Gallagher Premiership, have hailed the role their two new signings have had so far on the Lions tour in South Africa, winger Duhan van der Merwe getting picked in the starting side for this Saturday’s first Test versus the Springboks and loosehead Rory Sutherland included to provide front row cover from the bench. 


Thirteen Premiership/United Rugby Championship clubs have players involved in this weekend’s matchday 23 and Worcester are the sixth-best represented club following their heavy recruitment overhaul, 20 players leaving at the end of the 2020/21 season to be replaced by a treasure trove of new recruits headlined by van der Merwe, a January 4 signing, and Sutherland, a July 1 signing.

Neither player has yet to train for the Sixways-based club, never mind wear the jersey in a match, but the official Lions teamsheet ahead of Saturday’s Test series opener has listed both players as Worcester rather than Edinburgh, the team they had played for in recent years.    

Video Spacer

Anthony Watson on the importance of a fast Lions start versus the Springboks
Video Spacer
Anthony Watson on the importance of a fast Lions start versus the Springboks

That description might upset a few Edinburgh fans. If the pair were listed as still attached to the Scottish club, as they were when the Lions squad was originally selected on May 6 when the 2020/21 club season was still ongoing, they would have three representations in the Lions first Test squad as Hamish Watson has been chosen on the bench. 

Instead, it is Leinster, with three starters, Saracens, with two starters and a replacement, and Scarlets, with one starter and two replacements, who are the teams providing three players each to this weekend’s Lions matchday 23. 

“Duhan and Rory have for me both have been standout performers in terms of the games we have seen so far,” enthused Worcester head coach Jonathan Thomas on a Warriors video which coincided with the start of their pre-season training. “Duhan, from a power and an X-factor view, and Rory, his work rate and collision stuff has been phenomenal in the first few games. We have got the core of the team back in but we are all really proud and wishing those guys all the best in the coming weeks and look forward to welcoming them in a few months’ time.”


LEINSTER: 3 starters – Henshaw, Furlong, Conan
SARACENS: 2 starters/1 replacement – Daly, Itoje/Farrell
SCARLETS: 1 starter/2 reps – W Jones/Owens, Williams  
EXETER: 2 starters – Hogg, Cowan-Dickie
NORTHAMPTON: 2 starters – Biggar, Lawes
WORCESTER: 1 starter, 1 rep – van der Merwe/Sutherland  
MUNSTER: 2 reps – Murray, Beirne
BATH: 1 starter – A Watson
GLASGOW: 1 starter – Price 
OSPREYS: 1 starter – AW Jones
SALE: 1 starter – Curry
BRISTOL: 1 rep – Sinckler
EDINBURGH: 1 rep – H Watson


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