The Lions Series enters the half way stage with British and Irish Lions taking on South Africa ‘A’ at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday.
For this anticipated clash, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named the strongest possible South Africa ‘A’ squad that includes 18 Rugby World Cup winners and will be captained by Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am.
Reacting to the powerful South Africa ‘A’ squad, British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland said he was happier that Nienaber named a formidable and star-studded team as they will be looking to learn from their 2009 series defeat.
Gatland added that playing against the strongest possible South Africa ‘A’ side will be good preparation for the forthcoming three Test series against the Springboks.
“We’ve seen the team that they’ve announced, and it looks pretty strong. They’ve probably gone with as strong as team as they possibly can given that they still have players unavailable.
“It’s going to be a good test for us. I spoke to some of the players, some of the forwards about making the most of their opportunities now all the players will have had a couple of games.
“We’ve reiterated how close some of these selections are going to be and there’s going to be some fine margins, it’s about going out there giving your best and making the most of it.”
Lions VS British & Irish Lions
When announcing the squad, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber confirmed that the team will be captained by the likeable Sharks Lukhanyo Am centre as they will be looking to hand the British and Irish Lions their first defeat of the series.
In other South Africa ‘A’ team news, Nienaber included uncapped hooker Joseph Dweba in his starting line-up and the highly-rated lock Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg on the bench as part of the 25 named for the match.
Nienaber also named 10 replacements from which the final eight will be confirmed closer to kick off.
The starting XV features five players who started in the Springboks’ Test against Georgia over two weeks ago while veteran kicker Morne Steyn, who kicked the penalty goal to win a series against the Lions 12 years ago, makes his reacquaintance with the famous red jersey.
For the tourists, tour captain Conor Murray of Munster in Ireland returns to the starting XV which has 12 changes to the team that defeated Sharks 31-71 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.
Anthony Watson of Bath in England, Chris Harris of Gloucester in Scotland and Dan Biggar of Northampton Saints in Wales are the only players who have been retained from the comprehensive win over the Sharks.
Elsewhere in the team, Watson shifts from right wing to fullback with Harris moving to 13 where he is joined in midfield by Bundee Aki of Connacht in Ireland) while the dangerous Biggar will again start at fly-half.
This match is the fourth for the British and Irish Lions in an eight-game series that will culminate with the three Tests against World Champions Springboks.
Pick: British & Irish Lions Wins by 0.68 at BetXChange