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Gatland makes 14 changes to Lions XV to face Emirates Lions

By Liam Heagney

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Warren Gatland has made 14 changes to his starting XV for the second match of the 2021 Lions and their first on tour in South Africa next Saturday in Johannesburg. The Lions got the show on the road last Saturday with their 28-10 win over Japan in Edinburgh but that victory came at the heavy price of seeing skipper Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric getting ruled out of the trip with injury.

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Adam Beard and Josh Navidi were called into the squad before the Lions flew out of Edinburgh on Sunday to South Africa for their eight-match, three-Test adventure and Gatland has now chosen a team for the opening clash versus the Emirates Lions consisting of six English, five Scottish, four Welsh and no Irish.

It is a differently shaped representation to the XV that took the field at Murrayfield where there were seven Irish starters, six Welsh, two Scottish and no English for the first time since 1950. With Josh Adams the only repeat selection from last Saturday, Gatland has hugely changed things up the second time around.

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Maro Itoje on what is it like playing for Saracens
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Stuart Hogg, a replacement in last Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership final for Exeter, will captain a Lions team where Louis Rees-Zammit, Chris Harris and Jonny Hill are all set to make their Lions debuts. 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.

“It’s good to have arrived in Johannesburg and get the Tour underway,” said Lions boss Gatland. “We had a pleasing win last week up in Edinburgh, but there is still plenty we need to get right on Saturday.

“I have been encouraged by the way the boys have trained this week. I feel it has gone up a level from where we were in Jersey and we are 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 Stuart who I am sure will lead the side by example.”

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BRITISH & IRISH LIONS (vs Emirates Lions, Saturday)
15. Stuart Hogg – captain (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales)
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland)
12. Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) #780
11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) #836
10. Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland) #835
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #843
1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) #842
2. Jamie George (Saracens, England) #819
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England)
6.Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) #779

Replacements:
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) #787
18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)
19. Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) #808
20. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England)
21.Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales)
22. Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) #837
23. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822

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Gatland makes 14 changes to Lions XV to face Emirates Lions

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