Lions name strong squad for Waratahs clash
June 13, 2013
Sam Warburton passes the ball during the Lions training session in Sydney © Getty Images
The British & Irish Lions have picked their strongest team on tour to face the New South Wales Waratahs at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night. Coach Warren Gatland has selected the vast majority of players who are expected to be in his first Test line-up to play the Wallabies on June 22.
Welsh flanker Sam Warburton will captain the side, which also includes likely forward pack Test starters in Adam Jones, Paul O'Connell, Alun Wyn Jones and form No. 8 Jamie Heaslip.
The backline boasts lock-in Wales stars Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts and Mike Phillips plus Irish five-eighth Jonathan Sexton, who is the strong favourite to wear the No. 10 jersey ahead of Owen Farrell.
Until now, Gatland has mixed and matched his team to give all of his 37-man squad an opportunity to impress before coming up with his best side.
Irish veteran Brian O'Driscoll has been rested but improved his selection chances in the centres with a starring display in Tuesday night's rout of Combined Country, as have big Welsh wingers George North and Alex Cuthbert.
Fullback Rob Kearney has overcome a hamstring injury and will play his first match on tour off the bench.
Lions: Leigh Halfpenny; Sean Maitland, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Simon Zebo; Jonny Sexton, Mike Phillips; Jamie Heaslip, Sam Warburton (capt), Tom Croft; Paul O'Connell, Alun Wyn Jones; Adam Jones, Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola. Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Rob Kearney.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
The Wallabies showed flair in Dublin, but they still have a way to go if they are to do more than make up the numbers at the World Cup, writes Greg Growden
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales' lessons to learn in defeat by New Zealand are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards