Lions name team for Wallabies Test
Tom Hamilton in Brisbane
June 20, 2013
Sam Warburton will captain the Lions on Saturday © PA Photos
Sam Warburton will lead out the British & Irish Lions against the Wallabies on Saturday in the first Test of the 2013 series.
The side features eight players making their Lions Test debut with the line-up also including two former captains, Brian O'Driscoll who led the team in 2005 and Paul O'Connell in 2009. Perhaps the most noticeable inclusion is Alex Corbisiero who is named at loose-head having not been named in the original 37-man squad. Corbisiero was included after Cian Healy was ruled out through injury following the Western Force game.
The back three is all-Welsh with Test debutants Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and George North all named while Jonathan Davies takes the No.12 slot alongside O'Driscoll with Jamie Roberts and Manu Tuilagi ruled out.
At half-back Jonathan Sexton and Mike Phillips are named. In the front-row Corbisiero links up with fellow English international Tom Youngs with Adam Jones anchoring the squad at tight-head. In the second-row, Alun-Wyn Jones and Paul O'Connell both start - the pair both got the nod in the first Test against the Springboks in 2009. In the back-row, Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip partner captain Warburton.
"After six matches we have arrived at the first Test and have selected our strongest possible side with only Jamie Roberts,Tommy Bowe and Manu Tuilagi unavailable for selection," Lions boss Warren Gatland said. "The Wallabies at home pose a huge challenge but the Test team contains 20 of the players that played against the Waratahs in what was our best match to date. We now have a couple of more days of match preparation to ensure we improve again on that performance."
The team will go into the match on the back of their loss to the Brumbies and Gatland is hoping his side make amends against the Wallabies on Saturday. "The bottom line is that we have to win. The result against the Brumbies on Tuesday night was bit of a blip for us," Gatland said. "We've looked at Tuesday and realised that in the conditions we probably tried to play too much rugby.
Warren Gatland explains his selections%]
"But we feel very positive about where we are, we have a few hit-outs under our belts and that's given us that match-hardened edge we've been looking for. Physically we feel in good shape and very fresh. The Australian players haven't played for three or four weeks and it's been a bit longer for two of three of their key players because they've been injured. We need to take it to them physically."
Tour manager Andy Irvine added: "We are now at the business end of the tour. You can feel the excitement and commitment within the squad now that we are back in Brisbane and the first Test is just days away.
"I congratulate all the players who are making their Lions Test debut on Saturday. Playing against the Wallabies for the Lions is a major milestone in a player's career and I am confident they will all uphold the history and tradition of the Lions by giving their all."
Lions team: Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Brian O'Driscoll, Jonathan Davies, George North, Jonathan Sexton, Mike Phillips; Alex Corbisiero, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones, Alun-Wyn Jones, Paul O'Connell, Tom Croft, Sam Warburton (captain), Jamie Heaslip
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Sean Maitland
The Lions beat the Reds in Brisbane, but now they have the Wallabies in their sights © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter