Jones and Rees bolster Lions' pack
June 24, 2009
Adam Jones starts in an all-Welsh front-row for the Lions © Getty Images
Luke Fitzgerald Ross Ford Adam Jones Rob Kearney Matthew Rees Simon Shaw Andrew Sheridan Shane Williams
British & Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan has made five changes to his side for the second Test against South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday, naming an all Welsh front-row and calling Simon Shaw, Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald in to the starting XV.
Adam Jones and Matthew Rees slot in to the front-row, with Lee Mears and Phil Vickery dropping out of the 22 altogether. McGeechan has made the changes following the Lions' 26-21 first Test loss to the Springboks, with the frailties in the scrum and in defending the rolling maul genuine concerns for the must-win Test match.
With the maul in mind Shaw, the oldest tourist in the party, has been added as a more physical partner to skipper Paul O'Connell with powerful options in Andrew Sheridan and Ross Ford on the bench. Shaw was a tourist with the Lions in South Africa in 1997, but will make his Test debut on Saturday. The Lions selectors were unable to call on Scotland's Nathan Hines, who is serving a one-week ban for a dangerous tackle during Tuesday's draw with the Emerging Springboks in Cape Town.
Kearney replaces Lee Byrne, who has question marks over his fitness, with Fitzgerald replacing Ugo Monye to complete an all-Irish back-three alongside Tommy Bowe. Monye also drops out of the 22, with Shane Williams taking his place on the bench. Stephen Jones and Mike Phillips have retained their places at halfback, with Ronan O'Gara securing a place on the bench ahead of James Hook.
"As a squad, the Lions still have everything to play for," said McGeechan. "The players know that the outcome of the Test series comes down to Saturday, and they are determined to take the series to a decider in Johannesburg.
"There were many positives to come out of the first Test that we have built upon this week. We have made five changes to the starting XV, but it will not change the way we want to play.
"Both teams will be better for the run last weekend, and we know we will have to step up our performance to ensure that we again take the game to the opposition and are more accurate in taking our opportunities."
British & Irish Lions: R Kearney (Leinster and Ireland); T Bowe (Ospreys and Ireland), B O'Driscoll (Leinster and Ireland), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues and Wales), L Fitzgerald (Leinster and Ireland); S Jones (Scarlets and Wales), M Phillips (Ospreys and Wales); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues and Wales), M Rees (Scarlets and Wales), A Jones (Ospreys and Wales), S Shaw (Wasps and England), P O'Connell (Munster and Ireland, capt), T Croft (Leicester and England), D Wallace (Munster and Ireland), J Heaslip (Leinster and Ireland).
Replacements: R Ford (Edinburgh and Scotland), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks and England), A-W Jones (Ospreys and Wales), M Williams (Cardiff Blues and Wales), H Ellis (Leicester and England), R O'Gara (Munster and Ireland), S Williams (Ospreys and Wales)