British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has announced the team to play the Combined NSW-QLD Country side at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle on Tuesday (kick-off 7.40pm local time/10.40am Irish time).
The fourth match of the tour will see 2009 centre pairing Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Roberts reunited. They played four times during the tour to South Africa including the first and second Tests.
O’Driscoll will captain the Lions for the second time on tour, having scored two tries when leading the tourists to a 69-17 victory over Western Force last Wednesday.
Three of O’Driscoll’s Ireland team-mates – scrum half Conor Murray and back rowers Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip – are also included in the starting line-up, with hooker Rory Best kept in reserve.
Props Alex Corbisiero and Ryan Grant, who were called up in recent days, are set to make their first Lions appearances after joining up with the squad on Saturday.
British & Irish Lions tour manager Andy Irvine said: “We are delighted to have kept our unbeaten record intact (against the Queensland Reds).
“We were pushed all the way by an extremely skillful and committed Reds team that played some brilliant intuitive rugby.
“However, I was incredibly proud of the way we responded and how we defended right to the bitter end. The win will be a tremendous boost to our confidence for the forthcoming Test series.
“There is no doubt that the Combined NSW-QLD Country players will regard the game as their cup final. But we are getting stronger each week, combinations are starting to take shape and we will be determined to head for Sydney with another sound win.”
Head coach Warren Gatland commented: “The Reds game was always going to be a big challenge and I was delighted at the victory and the way we were tested. It was a very physical match as we knew it would be. We now move on to Newcastle and another challenge.
“This team to play Country includes three players – Richie Gray, Alex Cuthbert and Stuart Hogg – who are starting their second game in a row plus another George North who came off the bench early against the Reds.
“This is the nature of Lions tours as we adapt to injuries and playing twice a week.”
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS Team & Replacements (v NSW-QLD Combined Country, 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour, Hunter Stadium, Newcastle, Tuesday, June 11, kick-off 7.40pm local time/10.40am Irish time):
15. Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland)
14. Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
13. Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland) (capt)
12. Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
11. George North (Scarlets/Wales)
10. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland)
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland)
1. Alex Corbisiero (London Irish/England)
2. Richard Hibbard (Ospreys/Wales)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers/England)
4. Richie Gray (Scotland)
5. Ian Evans (Ospreys/Wales)
6. Sean O’Brien (Leinster/Ireland)
7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys/Wales)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland)
16. Rory Best (Ulster/Ireland)
17. Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland)
18. Matt Stevens (Saracens/England)
19. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales)
20. Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons/Wales)
21. Mike Phillips (Bayonne/Wales)
22. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets/Wales)
23. Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues/Wales)