British & Irish Lions tour manager Gerald Davies and head coach Ian McGeechan have announced the Lions team for the fourth match of the 2009 tour of South Africa. The selected team will play the Sharks in Durban on Wednesday (kick-off 6.10pm Irish time/live Sky Sports 2) and will be captained by Paul O’Connell.
Gerald Davies said: “We are now halfway through the provincial matches prior to the first Test and the important factor is that the Lions are unbeaten. The next challenge is the Sharks in Durban.
“The selected team will want to ensure that the 100% playing record is maintained with a victory at ABSA Stadium which is also the venue for the first Test.”
Commenting on the team selection, head coach Ian McGeechan said: “I am delighted that as we head into the fourth match we only have one player (Martyn Williams) who is unavailable for selection.
“The players and the medical staff have managed the injuries that have been sustained in a very professional manner.
“This is crucial as we enter matches against two of South Africa’s strongest provinces in the Sharks and Western Province in the space of four days.
“This is reflected by the fact that four starting players from the Cheetahs match will back up against the Sharks, while five players are starting their third match of the tour.
“Those five players are captain Paul O’Connell, Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, Jamie Roberts and David Wallace.
“Paul will start with his third different second row partner in Alun Wyn Jones, while we also have new starting partnerships in the back-three, the half-backs and in the front row.
“The next two matches are obviously critical in the development of the Test side.
“While we have these new starting partnerships for the Sharks match we also have a centre pairing in Jamie Roberts and Brian O’Driscoll, and a back row of Jamie Heaslip, David Wallace and Tom Croft that have played together on tour in the Golden Lions match.”
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS TEAM/REPLACEMENTS (v Sharks, 2009 Lions Tour, Wednesday, June 10, ABSA Stadium, kick-off 7.10pm local time/6.10pm Irish time):
15. Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales)
14. Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales)
13. Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland)
12. Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
11. Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland)
10. Ronan O’Gara (Munster/Ireland)
9. Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales)
1. Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
2. Lee Mears (Bath/England)
3. Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales)
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales)
5. Paul O’Connell (Munster/Ireland) (capt)
6. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England)
7. David Wallace (Munster/Ireland)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland)
16. Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales)
17. Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England)
18. Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England)
19. Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England)
20. Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland)
21. Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England)
22. Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues/Wales)