The British & Irish Lions have announced the team to play the Combined Country at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle on Tuesday and the panel includes three Leinster players and will be captained by Brian O’Driscoll (KO: 0.30am Irish time)…
The fourth match of the tour will see 2009 centre pairing O’Driscoll and Jamie Roberts re-united. They played four times during the tour to South Africa including the 1st and 2nd Tests.
O’Driscoll will captain the Lions for the second time on tour – and he joins fellow Leinster team-mates Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien in the panel – while replacement props Alex Corbisiero and Ryan Grant will make their first Lions appearances after joining the squad on Saturday.
British & Irish Lions Tour Manager Andy Irvine said: ‘We are delighted to have kept our unbeaten record intact. We were pushed all the way by an extremely skillful and committed Reds team that played some brilliant intuitive rugby. However, I was incredibly proud of the way we responded and how we defended right to the bitter end. The win will be a tremendous boost to our confidence for the forthcoming Test series.
“There is no doubt that the Combined Country players match will regard the game as their cup final. But we are getting stronger each week, combinations are starting to take shape and we will be determined to head for Sydney with another sound win.”
Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “The Reds game was always going to be a big challenge and I was delighted at the victory and the way we were tested. It was a very physical match as we knew it would be. We now move on to Newcastle and another challenge.
“This team to play Country includes three players – Richie Gray, Alex Cuthbert and Stuart Hogg – who are starting their second game in a row plus another George North who came off the bench early against the Reds. This is the nature of Lions tours as we adapt to injuries and playing twice a week.”
Meanwhile, Munster wing Simon Zebo will join the British & Irish Lions as cover for Tommy Bowe.
Zebo will fly from Houston, Texas on Sunday evening and arrive in Sydney on Tuesday morning, meeting up with the squad in Newcastle ahead of the game against Combined Country.
Bowe underwent surgery on Sunday morning to stabilise a bone fracture in his hand and his condition will be assessed over the next few days.
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS:
15: Sean Maitland (Galsgow Warriors/Scotland)
14: Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
13: Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland) CAPTAIN
12: Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
11: George North (Scarlets/Wales)
10: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland)
9: Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland)
1: Alex Corbisiero (London Irish/England)
2: Richard Hibbard (Ospreys/Wales)
3: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers/England)
4: Richie Gray (Scotland)
5: Ian Evans (Ospreys/Wales)
6: Sean O’Brien (Leinster/Ireland)
7: Justin Tipuric (Ospreys/Wales)
8: Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland)
16: Rory Best (Ulster/Ireland)
17: Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland)
18: Matt Stevens (Saracens/England)
19: Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales)
20: Tangaki Taulupe Faletau (Dragons/Wales)
21: Mike Phillips (Bayonne/Wales)
22: Jonathan Davies (Scarlets/Wales)
23: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues/Wales)