The British & Irish Lions will finally get their tour of South Africa underway when they take on the young but highly promising Lions side at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon where they will be looking to start on a winning note.
In announcing the squad that includes Junior Springbok fly-half Jordan Hendrikse, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen said the match is a big opportunity for every player involved and they are all looking forward to testing their skills against some of the best.
“There is such a small group of guys who will have the chance to play against players of this calibre in their lifetime, and I hope that they truly take a moment to take it in and savour the enormity of the moment,” said Van Rooyen.
In his squad, Van Rooyen has included players such as Burger Odendaal, Sti Sithole, PJ Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Jannie du Plessis, Franke Horn, Ruhan Straeuli, Emmanuel Tshituka, Vincent Tshituka and Jaco Visagie.
For the tourists this match is their first warm up match in South Africa before the three match Test series against the Springboks later and has extra importance for head coach Warren Gatland given that the SA tour has been shortened by two games from the one in New Zealand in 2017.
Lions VS British & Irish Lions
Lions head coach Warren Gatland has made 14 changes to the side which beat Japan with Wales winger Josh Adams the only man to keep his place.
Stuart Hogg, who was unavailable for the warm-up due to being involved in Exeter’s Premiership defeat to Harlequins, will captain the side.
There are four Welshmen in the starting lineup with Louis Rees-Zammit lining up on the opposite wing to Adams for his Lions debut, with Wyn Jones making his first start and three-time tourist Taulupe Faletau at number eight.
Finn Russell and Ali Price make up an all-Scottish half-back pair, with international colleague Chris Harris set for his first Lions outing outside England’s Owen Farrell, who is picked at 12.
There are five English players in the pack, with 2017 tourists Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes joined by lock Jonny Hill, who will make his Lions debut along with Scotland flanker Hamish Watson.
There are no Irish players in the starting lineup but lock Iain Henderson and centre Bundee Aki are among the replacements.
Luke Cowan-Dickie, Zander Fagerson, Sam Simmonds and Gareth Davies could make their first Lions appearances off the bench.
On the other hand, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen has urged his charges to make the most of their opportunity after naming his team to face the British & Irish Lions.
The match will raise the curtain on the 2021 Tour for Warren Gatland’s tourists as they build up to the much-anticipated three-Test series against South Africa – the first between the two sides since 2009.
Pick: British & Irish Lions Wins by 0.06 at BetXChange