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Lions bring forward XV announcement by 24 hours as Times leaks line-up

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Lions boss Warren Gatland has followed the lead of the Springboks by bringing forward the announcement of his first Test team by 24 hours. South Africa were initially due to announce their team on Wednesday for next Saturday’s Test series opener in Cape Town, but Jacques Nienaber brought this marking forward by 24 hours to Tuesday.

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Now Gatland, who was originally billed to announce his team this Thursday, has similarly brought forward his announcement by 24 hours and the big public reveal will now take place at 10am (BST) on Wednesday.

This means the Lions squad will only have to sit on the news of who is in their Test team for just one night and not two after Gatland privately told his squad what his XV is for Saturday before they went training for their second session on Tuesday afternoon at Hermanus High School in Cape Town.

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Tadhg Furlong talks about the Lions’ scrum and what to expect from the Springboks next weekend
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Tadhg Furlong talks about the Lions’ scrum and what to expect from the Springboks next weekend

“We are due to find out in a meeting this afternoon before we go out for the afternoon session,” said winger Anthony Watson at a Lions media briefing shortly after noon (BST) on Tuesday. “We should find out pretty imminently. This morning’s session was good. The backs, we went through our plays and some of our edge attack, edge defence, kicking game, that type of stuff but everyone was revved up.

“There was a different kind of aura around the place when it is Test week when everyone is trying to put their best foot forward at every moment in training. It was very good. It was competitive and I am sure this afternoon will be the same if not more ramped up.”

Springboks boss Nienaber, who announced a starting line-up containing eleven of the players that started the November 2019 final versus England, insisted his early team announcement wasn’t part of the mind games that have been going on between Lions boss Gatland and Rassie Erasmus, the South African director of rugby.

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“Irrespective of whether we announced it on a Wednesday or a Tuesday, they knew the team already. It was probably easier to get it out of the way. There is no strategic thinking,” he said.

Speculation about the likely Lions XV ignited on Tuesday evening with the London-based Times newspaper claiming the starting team announced by Gatland to his squad before afternoon training consisted of six English players with three each coming from Ireland, Scotland and Wales – including skipper Alun Wyn Jones.

LIONS TEAM (as speculated by the London Times)
15. Stuart Hogg; 14. Anthony Watson, 13, Elliot Daly, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Duhan van der Merwe; 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Ali Price; 1. Wyn Jones, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 6. Courtney Lawes, 7. Tom Curry, 8. Jack Conan. Reps: 16. Ken Owens, 17. Rory Sutherland, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Tadhg Beirne, 20. Hamish Watson, 21. Iain Henderson, 22. Conor Murray, 23. Owen Farrell.

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Lions bring forward XV announcement by 24 hours as Times leaks line-up

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