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Tour Match Preview: Emerging Springboks v British & Irish Lions

Tour Match Preview: Emerging Springboks v British & Irish Lions

Ronan O’Gara will captain a British & Irish Lions team that contains five of his Ireland team-mates, including tour debutant John Hayes, as the tourists look to bounce back from the disappointment of the first Test with a winning performance against the Emerging Springboks.

2009 BRITISH & IRISH LIONS TOUR: Tuesday, June 23

EMERGING SPRINGBOKS v BRITISH & IRISH LIONS, Newlands, Cape Town, 7.10pm local time/6.10pm Irish time (live Sky Sports 2)

Team News: The selected British & Irish Lions team for the tourists’ final midweek match will be captained by out-half Ronan O’Gara, the fourth Irishman to lead the Lions on this tour to South Africa. 

Commenting on the team selection, head coach Ian McGeechan said: “There were many positives that came out of the Test match on Saturday.

“The Emerging Springboks match, and our training this week, will allow us to build on these plus address areas we know we need to improve on.

“There is still a lot to play for and the players are well aware of that.

“The mood in camp is still very positive due to the fact that we did come very close to winning on Saturday and the fact that we created so many scoring opportunities.

“The players are well aware of the importance of the match tomorrow against the Emerging Springboks.

“We need to step up our performance against a talented outfit whose players, like ours, will be determined to show that they are worthy of a Test place. It should be a great match.”

He added: “The two latest squad members, Tim Payne and John Hayes, will start against the Emerging Springboks to give them immediate field time.

“This is important in terms of the balance of the squad as three of our other props played in the Test match only two days ago and Andrew Sheridan is recovering from injury.

“Ronan O’Gara will lead the team against the Emerging Springboks which is a well deserved honour for a senior player who has served Munster, Ireland and the British & Irish Lions with distinction.”

McGeechan’s squad for the Emerging Springboks game includes six players who saw action in the first Test defeat to South Africa – Donncha O’Callaghan, Martyn Williams, Lee Mears, Phil Vickery, David Wallace and Ugo Monye.

Meanwhile, the Emerging Springboks squad features an array of prodigious talent, all with a point to prove.

The likes of scrum half Jano Vermaak and full-back Zane Kirchner were considered unfortunate to miss out on selection for the senior Springbok side, while utility back Earl Rose and centre Morgan Newman are both part of the wider South African squad.

Players such as back rower Jean Deysel, prop Wian du Preez and hooker Tiaan Liebenberg have all played against the Lions for their provincial sides earlier on the tour, with the Lions coming out on top on each occasion.

No doubt they and players such as second row Steven Sykes, winger Luzuko Vulindlu and skipper Jacques Botes will be desperate gain some sort of revenge at Newlands.

The Emerging Boks are coached by South Africa’s assistant coach Dick Muir who saw the Lions close up at the ABSA Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

He will know all too well the importance of confidence and momentum going into next weekend’s middle rubber and if his side can take the Lions’ scalp in the build-up, Muir will believe it could be crucial blow to the tourists’ chances of overall Test success.

EMERGING SPRINGBOKS: Zane Kirchner (Blue Bulls); Luzuko Vulindlu (Sharks), Deon van Rensburg (Leopards), Morgan Newman (Western Province), Bjorn Basson (Griquas); Earl Rose (Golden Lions), Jano Vermaak (Golden Lions); Wian du Preez (Free State Cheetahs), Bandise Maku (Blue Bulls), Werner Kruger (Blue Bulls), Steven Sykes (Sharks), Wilhelm Steenkamp (Blue Bulls), Dewald Potgieter (Blue Bulls) (capt), Jean Deysel (Sharks), Duane Vermeulen (Western Province).

Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg (Western Province), Patric Cilliers (Sharks), Franco van der Merwe (Golden Lions), Jacques Botes (Sharks), Heini Adams (Blue Bulls), Willem de Waal (Western Province), Danwel Demas (Free State Cheetahs).

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: Keith Earls (Munster/Ireland); Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales), Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster/Ireland), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland); Ronan O’Gara (Munster/Ireland) (capt), Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers/England); Tim Payne (London Wasps/England), Ross Ford (Edinburgh/Scotland), John Hayes (Munster/Ireland), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster/Ireland), Nathan Hines (Perpignan/Scotland), Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues/Wales).

Replacements: Lee Mears (Bath/England), Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England), Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England), David Wallace (Munster/Ireland), Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland), James Hook (Ospreys/Wales), Ugo Monye (Harlequins/England).

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Television Match Official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Emerging Springboks to win: 7/4; Draw: 20/1; British & Irish Lions to win: 4/9

Pre-Match Quotes: Ronan O’Gara (British & Irish Lions) – “I hope there is still a chance of breaking into the Test side this weekend. That’s what we’ve been told and that’s what we’ll all be working towards.

“I was told it was a close call leading into the first Test and I would like to think it is even more open after the first Test. I have got to keep the pressure on Stephen (Jones) and that’s my goal.

“I want to run out on Saturday and start a Test match for the Lions. Now I have this huge bonus of being made captain and Tuesday will be a very big day for me.

“Playing for the Lions is something unbelievably special and Tuesday is a huge opportunity for me.

“There is a massive belief in the squad and our captain, Paul O’Connell, is unwavering in his faith and belief in the players.

“He has been fantastic and I hope he gets out of this tour what he deserves.

“We all expected to win last weekend, but I thought the ‘Boks were really impressive for the first hour. There was real belief there, but I was disappointed with the way we played.

“If you ask me, the better team won. Momentum is important and the Springboks got the momentum last weekend.

“We needed to hang in there and be a bit tougher when they were having their purple patches.

“Now we need to make a statement as a team on Tuesday night to give the team momentum going into Saturday’s second Test.

“Realistically, there are four or five places up for grabs in the Test team and there could be certain individuals who benefit from a good team effort.”

Dick Muir (Emerging Springboks) – “We are all working towards the goal of South Africa winning the Test series against the Lions and it would be great if we could make it two wins in a row after that victory by the Springboks in the first Test in Durban.

“The Lions went into the Test having won six out of six and they came very close in Durban. It is going to be a big forward battle again and this game is really going to test our players.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the back row combination playing together and we have an exciting half-back unit who play together regularly with the Golden Lions.

“This team is probably on a par with the Southern Kings side the Lions faced, although we won’t have the same level of experience.

“The Kings really got stuck into the Lions and we will take that same attitude into the game.”