Monday 19 March 2018

Brian O'Driscoll to captain the Lions in next game

Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll will captain Lions in Wednesday's clash against Western Force in Perth.

O'Driscoll steps in for tour skipper Sam Warburton, who is likely to make his bow against Queensland Reds next Saturday. The line-up does not include any players that started against the Barbarians in Hong Kong two days ago.

Five of the line-up will make their Lions debuts - Manu Tuilagi, Rory Best, Dan Cole, Ian Evans and Sean O'Brien.

The side comprises eight Irishmen, four Welsh and three English as the Lions look to build on their 59-8 rout of the Barbarians. Ireland full-back Rob Kearney was the only player not considered, with a hamstring problem currently keeping him on the sidelines.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland said: "There were a lot of positives to come out of the first match in Hong Kong. Our fitness and application were excellent, and we operated well in the set-pieces.

"That said, it was our first match, and naturally we were all a bit rusty, and there is definitely room for improvement. Of course this is a completely new team, and the challenge is to ensure that the selected players continue the on-field progress we are seeking.

Brian O'Driscoll runs with the ball during a training session in Perth
Brian O'Driscoll runs with the ball during a training session in Perth
The British and Irish Lions team player Brian O'Driscoll talks with journalists during a news conference in Perth
Brian O'Driscoll poses for a photograph after a news conference in Perth
Lions team captain Sam Warburton stretches with a trainer during a warm-up session in Perth
Manu Tuilagi (C) passes the ball as teammates George North (L) and Tommy Bowe look on during a training session in Perth
Brian O'Driscoll speaks at the news conference in Perth this morning where he was announced as captain
Lions physiotherapist Prav Mathema treats Rob Kearney at the Aberdeen Sports Ground in Hong Kong yesterday

"With Brian at the helm you can be sure they will be ready to emulate the victory against the Barbarians. This is his fourth Lions tour and he is a respected leader."

Lions manager Andy Irvine added: "I told the team in Hong Kong they were custodians of the red jersey. That responsibility is now with this group of players, and I am confident they will give their all against the Force. This is the first match of the tour in Australia, and the Lions are keen to make a winning start here."

British and Irish Lions team: L Halfpenny (Wales); T Bowe (Ireland), B O'Driscoll (Ireland, captain), M Tuilagi (England), G North (Wales); J Sexton (Ireland), C Murray (Ireland); C Healy (Ireland), R Best (Ireland), D Cole (England), A-W Jones (Wales), I Evans (Wales), T Croft (England), S O'Brien (Ireland), J Heaslip (Ireland).

Replacements: T Youngs (England), M Vunipola (England), M Stevens (England), G Parling (England), T Faletau (Wales), B Youngs (England), O Farrell (England), S Maitland (Scotland).

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