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Zebo set to start against Waratahs

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Lion Simon Zebo. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Lion Simon Zebo. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Lion Simon Zebo. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

MUNSTER'S Simon Zebo has been rushed straight into the British and Irish Lions team and will start on the left wing for the tour match against Super Rugby's New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday.

Zebo only arrived in Australia on Tuesday as an injury replacement after playing for Ireland against the US Eagles in Houston, Texas last weekend.

Saturday's line-up, which will be led by regular captain and flanker Sam Warburton, is expected to be similar to the one which will face Australia in the first Test on June 22 at Brisbane.

The Lions' next match after Saturday is next Tuesday against the ACT Brumbies, giving any starter in that game only four days to recover for the Test.

Out-half Jonathan Sexton, who is favourite to start at No 10 against Australia, is in the starting line-up against the Waratahs after recovering from a tight hamstring. The backline also features Wales players Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts and Mike Phillips.

Joining Warburton as other likely Test forwards are Adam Jones, Paul O'Connell, Alun Wyn Jones and No 8 Jamie Heaslip.

There is no place for Seán O'Brien, raising fears that he won't make the cut to face the Aussies.

Also missing is Brian O'Driscoll, but Gatland said he is being rested.

"You saw at the end of the (Combined Country XV) game that he (O'Driscoll) said he had done the splits, and he just woke up a little bit sore," Gatland said.

"The thing with Brian is that we've got to make sure we manage him.

"We spoke about that with him specifically before the tour, saying that we didn't really want him to play more than one game a week, and at any stage if his body was a little bit sore we would make sure that we keep him fresh and didn't tire him out.

"The selection was in mind for next week as well. Some players have had two or three games in a week.

"We've got to think about next Tuesday – we've got a game against the Brumbies on Tuesday – and we are still looking at combinations.

"We said to the players that there is an opportunity for the players on Saturday to stake claims, but the Test team won't be selected until after Tuesday."

Lions team: Leigh Halfpenny, Sean Maitland, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Simon Zebo, Jonathan Sexton, Mike Phillips; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Paul O'Connell, Tom Croft, Sam Warburton (captain), James Heaslip. Reserves: Richard Hibbard, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Robert Kearney.


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