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Henderson And Aki On Bench For Lions’ First Game In South Africa

Henderson And Aki On Bench For Lions’ First Game In South Africa

Ulster and Ireland's Iain Henderson is pictured during a Lions training session earlier this week in Johannesburg ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Iain Henderson and Bundee Aki are the two Ireland representatives in the British & Irish Lions matchday squad for Saturday’s match against the Sigma Lions in Johannesburg (kick-off 6pm local time/5pm Irish time).

For the opening fixture of the tour down in South Africa, head coach Warren Gatland has selected an all-new starting XV – apart from Josh Adams, a try scorer against Japan last weekend, on the left wing.

Last Saturday’s seven Irish starters, including newly-appointed tour captain Conor Murray, are rested for the Sky Sports-televised clash at Emirates Airline Park, with Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg skippering the team.

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Wales flyer Louis Rees-Zammit, Scotland’s Chris Harris and English lock Jonny Hill are all set to make their Lions debuts.

Replacements Luke Cowan-Dickie, Zander Fagerson, Sam Simmonds and Gareth Davies are also in line to make their first appearances in the famous red jersey.

Looking forward to the Lions’ first outing on South African soil, Gatland said: “It’s good to have arrived in Johannesburg and to get the tour underway.

“We had a pleasing win last week up in Edinburgh, but there’s still plenty we need to get right on Saturday.

“I’ve been encouraged by the way the boys have trained this week. I feel it’s gone up a level from where we were in Jersey and we’re starting to see a better understanding of some of our tactics.

“There’s some new player combinations for us to have a look at this Saturday, which is good information for us as the Test series approaches.

“My congratulations to all those playing their first game as a Lion, and also to Hoggy too, who I am sure will lead the side by example.”

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS Team & Replacements (v Sigma Lions, 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series – Tour Match, Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg, Saturday, July 3, kick-off 6pm local time/5pm Irish time):

15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs/Scotland) (capt) #783
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester/Wales)
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester/Scotland)
12. Owen Farrell (Saracens/England) #780
11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby/Wales) #836
10. Finn Russell (Racing 92/Scotland) #835
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland) #843
1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets/Wales) #842
2. Jamie George (Saracens/England) #819
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears/England) #814
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens/England) #825
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs/England)
6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints/England) #826
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh/Scotland)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath/Wales) #779


16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs/England)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens/England) #787
18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland)
19. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Ireland) #808
20. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs/England)
21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets/Wales)
22. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Ireland) #837
23. Elliot Daly (Saracens/England) #822