Duhan van der Merwe among Scotland quartet in Lions XV for Murrayfield clash against Japan
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LONDON - Four Scotland players have been selected in the British and Irish Lions starting XV for Saturday's landmark match against Japan in Edinburgh.
Wing Duhan van der Merwe, flanker Hamish Watson and props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland will all make their debuts for the combined side, who will be skippered by tour captain Alun Wyn Jones.
This match, staged a day before the squad departs for South Africa for a tour that culminates with a three-Test series against the world champion Springboks, will be the first time the Lions have played in Scotland, with this 'warm-up fixture also their first match against Japan
The back-row selected by Warren Gatland will all be making their Lions debuts, with Ireland's Tadhg Beirne and Jack Conan joining Watson in the loose-forward trio.
But the veteran coach, in charge of the Lions for a third successive tour after a 2013 series win in Australia was followed by a drawn 2017 Test campaign in his native New Zealand, has selected an experienced half-back pairing of Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray and Wales stand-off Dan Biggar.
Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw form an all-Ireland centre pairing, with no England players in the starting XV.
But four members of the Red Rose brigade are on the bench, with England captain Owen Farrell and Jamie George providing fly-half and hooker cover respectively despite only arriving into the Lions' training camp in Jersey on Monday.
Liam Williams (WAL), Josh Adams (WAL), Robbie Henshaw (IRL), Bundee Aki (IRL), Duhan van der Merwe (SCO); Dan Biggar (WAL), Conor Murray (IRL); Jack Conan (IRL), Hamish Watson (SCO), Tadhg Beirne (IRL); Alun Wyn Jones (WAL, capt), Iain Henderson (IRL); Zander Fagerson (SCO), Ken Owens (WAL), Rory Sutherland (SCO)
Replacements: Jamie George (ENG), Wyn Jones (WAL), Tadhg Furlong (IRL), Courtney Lawes (ENG), Taulupe Faletau (WAL), Ali Price (SCO), Owen Farrell (ENG), Anthony Watson (ENG)
Coach: Warren Gatland (NZL)