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Late changes for Lions as Itoje and Russell withdrawn

By PA

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The British and Irish Lions have been forced to make two late changes for their clash with the Sharks in Pretoria after Maro Itoje and Finn Russell were ruled out.

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Itoje has a mild gastric bug and is replaced in the second row by England team-mate Courtney Lawes, whose place on the bench is taken by Adam Beard.

Russell has withdrawn from the replacements because of an Achilles injury he has been managing, so Bundee Aki comes in to offer back cover.

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The Lions are playing the Sharks for the second time in four days after original opponents the Bulls pulled out because of an outbreak of coronavirus in their camp.

Warren Gatland’s men won the first meeting on Wednesday night 54-7 to continue their winning progress through the tour.

A statement reads: “Courtney Lawes will replace Maro Itoje in the starting XV for this evening’s Castle Lager Lions Series clash against Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld (kick off 5pm BST).

“Second row Itoje has been suffering from a mild gastric bug. Adam Beard is called into the replacements.

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“Elsewhere, Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) also takes a place on the bench, replacing Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland) who is managing an Achilles issue.”

THE BRITISH & IRISH LIONS VS SHARKS
15. Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) #833
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816
13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822
12. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
9. Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) #850
1. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840
2. Jamie George – captain (Saracens, England) #819
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818
4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England) #845
6. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) #847
8. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839

Replacements:
16. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) #842
18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814
19. Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales) #852
20. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) #849
21. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853
22. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
23. Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) #837

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Late changes for Lions as Itoje and Russell withdrawn

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