Liam Williams has been named on the British and Irish Lions’ bench for this week’s first Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Warren Gatland’s 23-man squad is largely as expected after the team was leaked on Tuesday night, with there being no place for Taulupe Faletau or Josh Adams in the matchday squad.
However, there is one change to the expected side – with Williams onto the bench as the third replacement back alongside Conor Murray and Owen Farrell as Gatland opts for a 5-3 split.
LIVE UPDATES: Gatland to explain shock omissions from first Lions Test team
In the front-row, Wyn Jones is handed the loose-head jersey alongside Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tadhg Furlong, while Alun Wyn Jones completes his miraculous recovery to partner Maro Itoje in the second-row. You can read Itoje’s comments about the experienced Jones here.
Courtney Lawes is favoured to Tadhg Beirne on the blindside, while Jack Conan gets the nod ahead of Faletau at the base of the scrum.
Ali Price is rewarded for his recent exploits by forming a half-back partnership with Dan Biggar. You can read how much Test selection means to the Welsh fly-half here.
In midfield, Robbie Henshaw and Elliot Daly are retained from the Stormers clash, while Anthony Watson and Duhan van der Merwe get the nod on the wings ahead of Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit.
Stuart Hogg will finally win an elusive Lions Test cap in his third tour after getting the nod to start at full-back.
Ken Owens and Williams are the Welsh representation on the bench, while there are also places for the likes of Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Conor Murray and Owen Farrell.
Are you happy with this Lions Test team? Can they beat South Africa? Have your say and see what others think in the comments section here.
“In my four Tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the hardest Test selection I have been involved in,” said Gatland.
“We couldn’t have asked for more from the players so far; they’ve all put their hands up and made picking a starting XV incredibly difficult. In truth, we would have been happy with any number of different combinations across the 23, however, we’re very pleased with the side we’ve settled on.
“We know what we’re coming up against on Saturday. It’s going to be an arm wrestle, there’s no doubt about it. We’ll need to front up physically and be ready to go from the first whistle. When we played SA ‘A’ last week we probably took a bit too long to get into the game, something we can’t afford to do that again this weekend.
“We need to make sure we play in the right areas of the field, not give them easy territory and take our chances when they come.
“While the stands will be empty in Cape Town Stadium, we know Lions fans from across the home nations will be cheering us on back home. We’ll do our best to get the win.”
Lions first Test team: Stuart Hogg; Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe; Dan Biggar, Ali Price; Wyn Jones, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Liam Williams.
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