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Lions forced into making eight late changes to their matchday 23

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Wednesday night’s Lions match versus the Sharks is going ahead but Warren Gatland has been forced into making four changes to his starting line-up and another four to his bench following the chaos caused by a Covid outbreak in their ranks.


It had earlier been reported on Wednesday that a member of management who had tested positive following a lateral flow for the virus had been isolated along with four close contacts – two players and two other members of staff – while all members of the touring party were then PCR tested.

When confirmation came through that the match was going ahead, it also arrived with a revision in the number of people affected by the developing situation and its consequence was a much-changed matchday 23 to what was originally selected on Monday. 

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A statement read: “The British and Irish Lions can confirm that one player and a member of the Lions management team has tested positive for Covid-19 following PCR testing as part of the tour screening programme which took place on Wednesday.

“The two individuals had a total of twelve close contacts – eight players and four staff members – all of whom have been placed into isolation at the team hotel. All other members of the touring party returned negative results following PCR testing earlier today [Wednesday]. After consultation with the medical advisory group (MAG), this evening’s game against the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park will still take place at the revised time of 8pm (SAST)/7pm (BST).”

While the original starting pack remained unchanged, the half-backs were altered with Ali Price and Owen Farrell replacing Gareth Davies and Dan Biggar. Josh Adams also replaced Liam Williams at full-back with Louis Rees-Zammit on the wing in place of Anthony Watson. In a revised bench, Maro Itoje, Finn Russell, Hamish Watson and Taulupe Faletau were included at the expense of Tadhg Beirne, tour skipper Conor Murray, Stuart Hogg and Chris Harris which left Gatland with a 7/1 forwards/backs split. 


LIONS (revised team vs Sharks, Wednesday)
15. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales)
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales)
13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England)
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland)
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens, England)
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England)
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England)
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)
4. Iain Henderson – Captain (Ulster Rugby, Ireland)
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales)
6. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby, Wales)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England)
8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England)

16. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales)
17. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland)
18. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland)
19. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England)
20. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland)
21. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)
22. Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland)
23. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales)


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