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The 10 Lions players poised to start Sharks game next Wednesday

By Liam Heagney

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The selection policy adopted so far by Warren Gatland on the 2021 Lions tour has left ten players poised for a first start in next Wednesday’s match in Johannesburg versus the Sharks. Gatland had promised at least one start across the opening three matches for every player he has chosen to tour.


With Josh Adams the only survivor from the starting XV that beat Japan chosen in the team that will face the Emirates Lions this Saturday, it means that 29 players have been given a start so far by Gatland. 

That leaves ten more players awaiting selection in a starting Lions side, a trio of backs in Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Gareth Davies and seven forwards, a list made up of Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Zander Fagerson, Adam Beard, Josh Navidi, Tom Curry and Sam Simmonds.

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Conor Murray’s first interview as Lions captain in South Africa
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Conor Murray’s first interview as Lions captain in South Africa

Of the ten, only Beard, Navidi and Curry will have had no matchday involvement so far. Beard and Navidi were the eleventh-hour replacements called up last weekend following the tour-ending injuries suffered by skipper Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric in the win over Japan. 

Curry, meanwhile, joined up with the Lions for their second week of pre-departure preparation in Jersey but there has been no reason given as to why he hasn’t featured even off the bench in either of the two team selections so far.  

Watson, who has been nursing a toe issue this week, played off the bench against the Japanese last weekend while Daly, Davies, Vunipola, Cowan-Dickie, Fagerson and Simmonds are set to make their first appearances of the tour off the bench versus the South African Lions who struggled in the recent Rainbow Cup. For us, the first game on tour is always difficult just getting up to speed. They are probably the least affected of the four teams in terms of the number of players lost to the Springboks squad.


‘They are going to be fairly settled and pretty strong and for a lot of these players it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to play against the Lions so they are going to be incredibly motivated to want to go and play well and be the first team to try and beat the Lions on tour.” 


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