Marcus Smith makes his debut at fly-half and tour captain Alun Wyn Jones wins a spot on the bench just three weeks after dislocating his shoulder for the Lions’ final warm up match in South Africa on Saturday
- British and Irish Lions face DHL Stormers on Saturday in final warm-up match
- They will be captain by Stuart Hogg again after his Covid isolation finished
- Alun Wyn Jones takes a place on the bench after shoulder dislocation recovery
- Marcus Smith comes in to make his Lions debut starting at fly-half in Cape Town
Marcus Smith will make his Lions debut starting at fly-half on Saturday against the Stormers in a side captained by Stuart Hogg, now out of Covid isolation, as Alun Wyn Jones returns to the bench.
The Scotland skipper was a close contact of a positive test and only re-joined the squad in Cape Town on Wednesday having been forced to stay in his Johannesburg hotel.
But he leads the side this Saturday from full-back as Josh Adams returns after witnessing the birth of his baby daughter Lottie via Zoom on Wednesday.
Marcus Smith is poised to make his British and Irish Lions debut at fly-half against the Stormers
Alun Wyn Jones takes his place on the bench having recovered from the dislocated shoulder he suffered in the first Lions match against Japan at Murrayfield
Tour captain Jones is straight onto the bench for the Lions having miraculously recovered from his shoulder dislocation 19 days ago – coach Warren Gatland thought he would not be involved on Saturday, but the skipper is in.
Robbie Henshaw, the Irish centre, is back for his first match since the pre-tour Japan game having hurt his hamstring alongside Elliot Daly, with Duhan van der Merwe on the wing.
Ali Price partners with Harlequins’ 22-year-old sensation Smith – who won the Premiership, his first England cap and then was called up to the Lions squad in three consecutive weeks this summer.
‘It’s an important game as it’s the final chance for the coaching group to see the players perform prior to the start of the Test Series,’ said Gatland.
Captain Stuart Hogg returns after serving out his Covid self-isolation in a Johannesburg hotel
Robbie Henshaw will also return to the team having hurt his hamstring against Japan
‘For the matchday 23 it’s their last opportunity to stake a claim for a Test place, so I expect to see a highly motivated group of players.
‘It is particularly pleasing to be able to name Stuart Hogg in the squad. He’s not had much luck on Lions Tours to date, so it’ll be great to see him cross the whitewash again with the captain’s armband.
‘I’m also delighted that Marcus will get his first start in a Lions jersey. I’ve been really impressed with his attitude since coming into camp this week; he’s been like a sponge for information.
Warren Gatland has plenty to ponder following Wednesday’s loss to South Africa ‘A’
The Lions look dejected after losing to South Africa A in their tour match in Cape Town
Lukhanyo Am (centre) darts past the challenges of two Lions players on his way to scoring
‘Obviously it’s a tight turnaround from Wednesday’s game but we’re in pretty good shape. The South Africa ‘A’ game was a physical encounter – we always knew it would be – but we’ve come out of it pretty much intact and ready to go again. Liam Williams will begin his return to play protocol following his HIA.
‘We learnt a lot from Wednesday’s game and I hope the defeat will serve us well. There’re still some areas of the game we need to tighten up on, particularly reducing our turnover rate.
‘Time and again on this Tour we’ve had to adapt in the face of the challenges created by COVID-19. I couldn’t be prouder of the staff and the players for the role each of them has played to get us to this point on the Tour.’
This is the Lions’ last match before Gatland selects his Test side next Thursday for the Springboks series – so all involved must take their final chance to impress.
Lions team to face the Stormers
15. Stuart Hogg – captain (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) #836
13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822
12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #824
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, England)
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #843
1. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818
4. Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales) #852
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England) #845
6. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) #847
8. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839
16. Jamie George (Saracens, England) #819
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) #787
18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #848
19. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) #761
20. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) #849
21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) #850
22. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844
23. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) #846
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