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Tour Match Preview: Golden Lions v British & Irish Lions

Tour Match Preview: Golden Lions v British & Irish Lions

The Golden Lions, who were known as Transvaal in a previous life, are the second provincial opponents for the British & Irish Lions on their 10-match tour of South Africa. The tourists’ matchday squad for the Johannesburg clash includes six Irishmen, with Brian O’Driscoll the team captain, and will be eager to impress after a flat showing against the Royal XV.

2009 BRITISH & IRISH LIONS TOUR: Wednesday, June 3 

GOLDEN LIONS v BRITISH & IRISH LIONS, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, 7.10pm local time/6.10pm Irish time (live Sky Sports 2)

Team News: British & Irish Lions tour manager Gerald Davies has announced the Lions team for the second match of the 2009 tour of South Africa.

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The selected side will play the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Wednesday and will be led by Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning captain Brian O’Driscoll.

O’Driscoll will lead a Lions team that includes four of his Grand Slam-winning team-mates (Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip), while Stephen Ferris has made the replacements bench after recovering from a calf injury.

Both Bowe and Wallace started last Saturday’s tour opener against the Royal XV in Rustenburg, and Heaslip was sprung from the bench during the second half of the 37-25 Lions win.

Commenting on the team selection, head coach Ian McGeechan said: “The team is very different to the one that played against the Royal XV on Saturday. There are only three players backing up from that match but six of the replacements have been promoted to Wednesday’s side for the Golden Lions match.

“This is in line with our intention that all players will play a full match in the first three matches on tour.

“The team has a very solid core with Brian O’Driscoll, Stephen Jones, David Wallace, Phil Vickery and Gethin Jenkins who are all very experienced internationals and previous Lions tourists.

“David Wallace now has the opportunity to play at openside flanker following his selection at number 8 against the Royal XV.

“Stephen Jones, who was a replacement in the last match but did not get a run, links up with his Welsh team-mate and scrum half Mike Phillips – giving the team an experienced half-back combination.

“The team has trained well. We have worked on several key areas following the first match which has given us a base from which to keep developing our game,” he added.

Meanwhile, Super 14 side the Golden Lions have included two South African internationals – Andre Pretorious and Lawrence Sephaka – to face McGeechan’s tourists.

Jano Vermaak, who made his debut from the bench during South Africa’s victory over a Namibian XV last Friday, will start at number 9 for the Golden Lions.

Utility back Earl Rose is also amongst the replacements having started for the World champions in their 36-7 win in Windhoek.

Uncapped Saracens-bound hooker Ethienne Reynecke joins Rose on the bench, as does Todd Clever who captained the USA Eagles last year.

Youngster Louis Ludik may not have appeared for the Springboks just yet, but following a pre-tour injury to Stormers star Conrad Jantjes, the highly-rated full-back will be looking to press his claims to fill his country’s number 15 jersey when the first Test kicks off in Durban on June 20.

Flanker Cobus Grobbelaar captains the side and number 8 Willem Alberts could be another player to watch out for, after some impressive displays in the Super 14 campaign.

The Golden Lions sacked their coach Eugene Eloff only last week and placed the experienced Hans Coetzee in temporary charge for the clash with the cream of British and Irish talent.

The touring Lions have played Transvaal or the Golden Lions on three previous occasions, winning all three games in 1974 (23-15), 1980 (32-12) and 1997 (20-14).

GOLDEN LIONS: Louis Ludik; Michael Killian, Jannie Boshoff, Doppies la Grange, Dusty Noble; André Pretorius, Jano Vermaak; Lawrence Sephaka, Willie Wepener, Gert Muller, Brad Mockford, Willem Stoltz, Cobus Grobbelaar (capt), Franco van der Merwe, Willem Alberts.

Replacements: Ethienne Reyneke, JC Janse van Rensburg, Ernst Joubert, Todd Clever, Chris Jonck, Walter Venter, Earl Rose.

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: Rob Kearney (Leinster/Ireland); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys/Ireland), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland) (capt), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Ugo Monye (Harlequins/England); Stephen Jones (Scarlets/Wales), Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Lee Mears (Bath/England), Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England), Nathan Hines (Perpignan/Scotland), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England), David Wallace (Munster/Ireland), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland).

Replacements: Ross Ford (Edinburgh/Scotland), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints/Scotland), Stephen Ferris (Ulster/Ireland), Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers/England), James Hook (Ospreys/Wales), Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales).

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Television Match Official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Golden Lions to win: 4/1; Draw: 25/1; British & Irish Lions to win: 1/7

Pre-Match Quotes: Brian O’Driscoll (British & Irish Lions) – “For me, it is not really about trying to put the wrongs of that (2005 tour) right. It is just another opportunity to be out playing in a Lions jersey.

“Not until you get back playing again from any injury can you really forget about it and put it behind you.

“It’s not so much the incident itself, it’s just the injury that happened. A dislocated shoulder is going to keep you out for a long time, so once I was back playing everything was behind me.

“I always hoped I would get on this Lions tour. It’s exciting every day putting on Lions training kit because you know you have to bring your ‘A’ game to training. If you don’t, you get shown up very quickly.

“I think I have played 24 games this year, and touch wood, for the most part, I’ve been fairly injury-free.

“Those sort of factors make a huge difference, and you are able to get continuity of performance, which counts for a huge amount.

“When you look at this squad, there are numerous Heineken Cup winners, Grand Slam winners, Premiership winners, Magners League winners and World Cup winners.

“It’s just a matter of building momentum.”

Cobus Grobbelaar (Golden Lions) – “Our preparations have been good. The vibe within the camp is positive and all the players are looking forward to this game.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to face the British & Irish Lions. It’s massive for us and so far things have been going well at training.

“We don’t want to just to show glimpses of good play but rather produce quality rugby for a full 80 minutes.

“We showed in the Super 14 that we can play good rugby, but the lack of consistency was the most disappointing aspect of our campaign.

“I’m certain the Lions will produce a much improved performance. They made a lot of unforced errors and could have played a lot better and I’m sure they will strive to improve on that.

“You could see from Saturday’s game against the Royal XV that there were times when they played very well and gave the ball some air and attacked the spaces.

“They have some dangerous runners in the back and the northern Hemisphere forwards will always be physical so we will have to be at our best.

“In the first half the Royal XV made good use of their opportunities and forced a lot of errors from the Lions through the pressure they put them under.

“I think they showed that on any given day any team can cause an upset.”

Pre-Match Links –

D’Arcy Called Up To Lions Tour

In Pics: Inside The Lions Camp

Earls Offloads ‘Lenny’ On Newcomer Leigh

‘Rock Boys Sign Up For The Lions

Numbers Game:

6 – The number of players in the British & Irish Lions’ starting back-line for Wednesday’s game who play their rugby in the Magners League. England winger Ugo Monye is the odd man out

4 – Four players will make their Lions debuts from the start of Wednesday’s encounter in Johannesburg, namely full-back Rob Kearney, winger Ugo Monye, flanker Tom Croft and lock Nathan Hines

1995 – Coca-Cola Park, the venue for Wednesday’s game, was previously known as Ellis Park. It hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup final which was famously won by the Springboks against New Zealand (15-12 after extra-time)