Conor Murray will captain the British & Irish Lions for the first time when they play South Africa ‘A’ at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday (kick-off 8pm local time/7pm Irish time).
The Munster and Ireland scrum half, who was appointed tour captain following Alun Wyn Jones’ injury-enforced withdrawal, leads a team showing twelve changes in total.
Anthony Watson, Chris Harris and Dan Biggar, all in the back-line, are the only players retained from last Saturday’s 71-31 victory over the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.
Murray’s Ireland team-mate Bundee Aki joins Harris in midfield, with the Scotland international switching to outside centre. Ulster skipper Iain Henderson starts in the second row.
Kildare man Tadhg Beirne, who touched down twice in the rematch with the Sharks, is included on a bench that has a six-two split of forwards and backs.
The game against South Africa ‘A’ will be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports Action & Main Event, and is the fourth match in an eight-game series culminating in the three Tests against South Africa.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland commented: “We’re pleased to have arrived in Cape Town as we near the halfway stage of the series.
“Wednesday’s game against South Africa ‘A’ will be our toughest encounter since we arrived here and we’re looking forward to it. We expect them to be physical in the contact area and look to test us at scrum time.”
He added: “I think we’ve benefitted from playing at altitude in the first three games. While the boys have felt it in their lungs, they’ll be all the better for it now we’re at sea level.
“As we move towards the business end of the tour, it’s pleasing to see so many players putting in some stand-out performances. As coaches we want the players to make Test selection as hard as possible and that’s what we’re seeing.”
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS Team & Replacements (v South Africa ‘A’, 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series – Tour Match, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, Wednesday, July 14, kick-off 8pm local time/7pm Irish time):
15. Anthony Watson (Bath/England) #816
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester/Wales) #846
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester/Scotland) #844
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Ireland) #837
11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby/Wales) #836
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints/Wales) #821
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland) (capt) #790
1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets/Wales) #842
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets/Wales) #829
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears/England) #814
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens/England) #825
5. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Ireland) #808
6. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby/Wales) #854
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks/England) #853
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath/Wales) #779
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs/England) #851
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens/England) #787
18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland) #848
19. Adam Beard (Ospreys/Wales) #852
20. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Ireland) #838
21. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs/England) #849
22. Gareth Davies (Scarlets/Wales) #850
23. Elliot Daly (Saracens/England) #822