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Watson switches positions for Lions to face supercharged South Africa 'A'

Anthony Watson and Bundee Aki /Getty

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Anthony Watson will move from the wing to fullback for the much-changed British & Irish Lions as they start a new, tougher phase of their tour against South Africa ‘A’ in Cape Town on Wednesday.


Watson, who has started just four of his 54 Test caps in the No.15 jersey, is one of three players retained from the team that brushed aside the Sharks 71-31 on Saturday, along with centre Chris Harris and flyhalf Dan Biggar.

Tour captain Conor Murray returns to the team at scrumhalf for what will be the Lions’ biggest challenge yet against a team drawn from the Springboks’ expanded 46-man squad that has been preparing for the three-Test series that gets underway on July 24.

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“We’re pleased to have arrived in Cape Town as we near the halfway stage of the series,” Lions coach Warren Gatland said in announcing the team on Monday.

“Wednesday’s game against South Africa ‘A’ will be our toughest encounter since we arrived here and we’re looking forward to it. We expect them to be physical in the contact area and look to test us at scrum time.

Louis Rees-Zammit and the prolific Josh Adams will be the starting wings, while Harris and Bundee Aki are the centre pairing.

Props Kyle Sinckler and Wyn Jones will be either side of hooker Ken Owens at the front of the scrum, with Iain Henderson and Maro Itoje in the second row.


Taulupe Faletau will pack down at the back of the scrum, with Tom Curry and Josh Navidi the two flankers.

Meanwhile, South Africa A have named a team that includes 18 players from the World Cup-winning squad of two years ago.

In the side is veteran flyhalf Morne Steyn, who played against the Lions 12 years ago, and the team is captained by Lukanyo Am.

South Africa spent the last week in self-isolation after an outbreak of COVID cases and had to cancel the second of two warm-up Tests against Georgia. They only resumed training on Sunday although are still without several players who are still self-isolating.


Coach Jacques Nienaber will not be at the game, however, as he recovers from a COVID-19 infection.


South Africa A: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am (capt), Damian de Allende, S’bu Nkosi, Mornée Steyn, Faf de Klerk, Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Marco van Staden, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Joseph Dweba, Steven Kitshoff

Res: Malcolm Marx, -Coenie Oosthuizen, Vincent Koch, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, -Rynhardt Elstadt, Herschel Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Damian Willemse, Kwagga Smith, Elton Jantjies.

Lions: Anthony Watson, Louis Rees-Zammit, Chris Harris, Bundee Aki, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Conor Murray (captain), Taulupe Faletau, Tom Curry, Josh Navidi, Iain Henderson, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler,-Ken Owens, Wyn Jones. Res: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Zander Fagerson, Adam Beard, Tadhg Beirne, Sam Simmonds, Gareth Davies, Elliot Daly.


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