Donncha O’Callaghan will captain the British and Irish Lions against the Southern Kings on Tuesday 16 June in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth with kick-off 15:00 local time and 14:00 BST.
Simon Shaw partners O’Callaghan in the second row while Euan Murray, Ross Ford and Andrew Sheridan form the front row. Lock Nathan Hines starts at blind-side flanker with Joe Worsley switched to the open-side. Gordon D’Arcy will make his first start of the tour alongside Riki Flutey, with Shane Williams and Luke Fitzgerald on the wings and Keith Earls at full-back. Andy Powell has another chance to impress at number eight following his strong performance against Western Province at the weekend, Mike Blair has been named at scrum-half but faces a fitness test on the ankle injury which forced him to pull out of the squad for Saturday’s victory over Western Province.
Lions coach Ian McGeechan said: (quote)This is Test week and there is a noticeable change in attitude within the touring party. We are now heading towards the business end of the tour and the reason why we have come to South Africa. As you would expect, the immediate focus is the next match against the Southern Kings on Tuesday before attention turns to selection for the first Test, for which all players will be considered. Seven players are backing up from the Western Province match, with Nathan Hines, Joe Worsley, Riki Flutey and Keith Earls given the opportunity in the starting XV in different positions.(end quote)
Flutey will play at outside centre while Worsley switches from his usual blind-side role to open-side. Tom Croft and David Wallace, considered favourites to start in the Test back row, are both included on the bench to cover the Lions shortage of loose-forward options. Winger Ugo Monye and fly-half Ronan O’Gara will also start among the replacements in Port Elizabeth.
Lions team: K Earls (Munster & Ireland); S Williams (Ospreys & Wales), R Flutey (Wasps & England), G D’Arcy (Leinster & Ireland), L Fitzgerald (Leinster & Ireland), J Hook (Ospreys & Wales), M Blair (Edinburgh & Scotland); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks & England), R Ford (Edinburgh & Scotland), E Murray (Northampton & Scotland), S Shaw (Wasps & England), D O’Callaghan (Munster & Ireland) (capt), N Hines (Perpignan & Scotland), J Worsley (Wasps & England), A Powell (Cardiff Blues & Wales).
Replacements: M Rees (Scarlets & Wales), A Jones (Ospreys & Wales), T Croft (Leicester Tigers & England), D Wallace (Munster & Ireland), H Ellis (Leicester Tigers & England), R O’Gara (Munster & Ireland), U Monye (Harlequins & England).
Southern Kings Squad
Backs: De Wet Barry, Ryno Benjamin, Tiger Mangweni, Wylie Human, Josh Fowles, Bevin Fortuin, Francois Hougaard, Mzwandile Stick, Elgar Watts, Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Frikkie Welsh.
Forwards: Kevin Buys, Michael Coetzee, Jaco Engels, Derrick Kuun, Darron Nell, Sivuyile Kobokana, Henry Grimes, Solly Tyibilika, Mpho Mbiyozo, Lungile Payi, Ross Skeate, Heinrich Stride, Ruan Vermeulen, Michael Vermaak, Marco Wentzel, Simon Westraadt