Warren Gatland makes 12 changes for Lions clash against SA A
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DURBAN - THE British & Irish Lons tour has shifted to Cape Town where they will play South Africa A on Wednesday and the Stormers on Saturday before tackling the Springboks in the first Test at the Cape Town Stadium on July 24.
Consequently — with that first Test only 12 days away — Warren Gatland’s team to play SA A is getting closer to what his optimum side will look like.
For example, the halfback combination that will run the show in the Test series for the Lions, captain Conor Murray and flyhalf Dan Biggar, are back in action as a duo for the first time since the Lions played Japan in their pre-tour warm-up in Edinburgh.
Gatland has made 12 changes to the side that defeated the Sharks 71-31 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, with Anthony Watson, Chris Harris and Biggar the only players retained.
Watson shifts from right wing to fullback with Harris moving to 13 where he is joined in midfield by Bundee Aki.
“We’re pleased to have arrived in Cape Town as we near the halfway stage of the tour,” said Gatland.
“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.”
“I think we’ve benefitted from playing at altitude in the first three games. While the boys have felt it in their lungs, they’ll be all the better for it now we’re at sea level.
“As we move towards the business end of the tour, it’s pleasing to see so many players putting in some stand-out performances. As coaches we want the players to make Test selection as hard as possible and that is what we are seeing.”
Lions team: 15. Anthony Watson 14. Louis Rees-Zammit 13. Chris Harris 12. Bundee Aki 11. Josh Adams 10. Dan Biggar 9. Conor Murray 8. Taulupe Faletau 7. Tom Curry 6. Josh Navidi 5. Iain Henderson 4. Maro Itoje 3. Kyle Sinckler 2. Ken Owens 1. Wyn Jones
Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Zander Fagerson, Adam Beard, Tadhg Beirne, Sam Simmonds, Gareth Davies, Elliot Daly