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Jones to captain Lions in first Test against South Africa

Jones to captain Lions in first Test against South Africa thumbnail
‘He’s been around for a while!’ – Gatland on Jones
Venue: Cape Town Stadium Date: Saturday, 24 July Kick-off: 17:00 BST
Coverage: Follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Alun Wyn Jones returns to captain the British and Irish Lions in the first Test against South Africa on Saturday, in a side that includes three Scottish players for the first time since 1997.

Scrum-half Ali Price is preferred to Conor Murray, while Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg are in the back three.

Ireland’s Jack Conan is at number eight, with no place in the squad for 2017 Test starter Taulupe Faletau.

Head coach Warren Gatland said picking the XV was “incredibly difficult”.

“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.”

After making a miraculous recovery from a dislocated shoulder, Jones will become the first player in the professional era to win 10 successive Test caps for the Lions.

Elsewhere in the forwards, Luke Cowan-Dickie starts at hooker, and is alongside the Welshman Wyn Jones and Ireland’s Tadgh Furlong in the front row.

Maro Itoje joins Jones in the second row, resuming their partnership from New Zealand four years ago, while the English pair of Courtney Lawes and Tom Curry make up the back row alongside Conan.

Dan Biggar partners Price at half-back, with Robbie Henshaw and Elliot Daly in the midfield. England captain Owen Farrell is among the replacements.

It means there are six Englishmen, three Welshmen, three Irishmen and three Scots picked in the side.

The Springboks announced their XV on Tuesday, with captain Siya Kolisi included after his recovery from Covid-19.

The three-match Test series will be played at the Cape Town Stadium at the same time (17:00 BST) on successive Saturdays from 24 July to 7 August.

Lions team to face South Africa: Hogg; A Watson, Daly, Henshaw, Van Der Merwe; Biggar, Price; W Jones, Cowan-Dickie, Furlong, Itoje, AW Jones (capt), Lawes, Curry, Conan.

Replacements: Owens, Sutherland, Sinckler, Beirne, H Watson, Murray, Farrell, L Williams.

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