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Warren Gatland names entirely changed Lions team to face Stormers

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Warren Gatland has named an entirely changed Lions starting team for Saturday’s final preparation match versus the Stormers following Wednesday night’s four-point loss to South Africa A in Cape Town. Back in the starting XV as skipper is Stuart Hogg who has missed the last three Lions matches due to isolation protocols following last week’s virus outbreak in the camp.

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Also involved is Robbie Henshaw. While Hogg has at least made one appearance so far in the four matches so far on South African soil, captaining the team in their July 3 clash with Sigma Lions in Johannesburg, the Irish midfielder hasn’t featured since the pre-departure game against Japan at Murrayfield on June 26 due to a hamstring issue.

Last Saturday’s mid-tour call-up, England’s Marcus Smith, will start at out-half while recalled tour skipper Alun Wyn Jones has been given a place on the bench following his arrival in Cape Town on Thursday morning. Winger Josh Adams, who pulled out of the XV versus South Africa A after his partner went into labour in Wales, has been restored to the starting XV following the birth of his daughter.

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In keeping with the chaotic nature of the tour so far in South Africa, the team announcement was originally due to be unveiled at 10am (BST) and was rescheduled for 10:45am before only getting revealed at 11:18 am. Lions boss Gatland said about his latest team: “It’s an important game as it’s the final chance for the coaching group to see the players perform prior to the start of the Test series.

“For the matchday 23, it’s their last opportunity to stake a claim for a Test place, so I expect to see a highly motivated group of players. It is particularly pleasing to be able to name Stuart Hogg in the squad. He has not had much luck on Lions tours to date, so it will be great to see him cross the whitewash again with the captain’s armband.

“I’m also delighted that Marcus will get his first start in a Lions jersey. I’ve been really impressed with his attitude since coming into camp this week. He has been like a sponge for information. Obviously, it’s a tight turnaround from Wednesday’s game but we are in pretty good shape. The South Africa A game was a physical encounter – we always knew it would be – but we have come out of it pretty much intact and ready to go again. Liam Williams will begin his return to play protocol following his HIA.

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“We learnt a lot from Wednesday’s game and I hope the defeat will serve us well. There are still some areas of the game we need to tighten up on, particularly reducing our turnover rate. Time and again on this tour we have had to adapt in the face of the challenges created by Covid-19. I couldn’t be prouder of the staff and the players for the role each of them has played to get us to this point on the tour.”

LIONS (vs Stormers, Saturday)
15. Stuart Hogg – captain (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) #836
13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822
12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #824
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, England)
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #843
1. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818
4. Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales) #852
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. Jamie George (Saracens, England) #819
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) #787
18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #848
19. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) #761
20. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) #849
21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) #850
22. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844
23. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) #846

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Warren Gatland names entirely changed Lions team to face Stormers

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