The British and Irish Lions have made five changes for the second Test against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria on Saturday.
Simon Shaw replaces Alun Wyn Jones in the second row and Adam Jones and Matthew Rees come in for Phil Vickery and Lee Mears in the front row. Rob Kearney replaces the injured Lee Byrne at full-back and Luke Fitzgerald gets the nod over Ugo Monye on the left wing.
Coach Ian McGeechan said: (quote)As a squad, the Lions still have everything to play for. The players know that the outcome of the Test series comes down to Saturday, and they are determined to take the series to a decider in Johannesburg. We have made five changes to the starting XV, but it will not change the way we want to play. Both teams will be better for the run last weekend, and we know we will have to step up our performance to ensure that we again take the game to the opposition and are more accurate in taking our opportunities.(end quote)
Phil Vickery, Lee Mears and Ugo Monye have been dropped from the squad altogether.
But it is Shaw’s inclusion that is a fairy story, with the Wasps lock making his Lions Test debut, despite having toured in 1997 and 2005 and played 17 games.Luke Fitzgerald, 21, will also make his Lions Test debut, while Wales’ Shane Williams takes Monye’s place on the bench. Scotland have one representative in the squad, with hooker Ross Ford replacing Mears, while England prop Andrew Sheridan is also a replacement.
There are seven Irishmen in the starting XV, with six Welshmen and two Englishmen.
R Kearney (Leinster and Ireland); T Bowe (Ospreys and Ireland), B O’Driscoll (Leinster and Ireland), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues and Wales), L Fitzgerald (Leinster and Ireland); S Jones (Scarlets and Wales), M Phillips (Ospreys and Wales); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues and Wales), M Rees (Scarlets and Wales), A Jones (Ospreys and Wales), S Shaw (Wasps and England), P O’Connell (Munster and Ireland, capt), T Croft (Leicester and England), D Wallace (Munster and Ireland), J Heaslip (Leinster and Ireland).
Replacements: R Ford (Edinburgh and Scotland), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks and England), A-W Jones (Ospreys and Wales), M Williams (Cardiff Blues and Wales), H Ellis (Leicester and England), R O’Gara (Munster and Ireland), S Williams (Ospreys and Wales).