The British & Irish Lions today announced the team to play the Western Force at Patersons Stadium, Perth on Wednesday, June 5 in the first game of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour.
The 23-man team contains eight new Lions and will be captained by Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll.
The starting XV does not include any of the players that started against the Barbarians in Hong Kong last Saturday.
Five of the starting team, Manusamoa Tuilagi, Sean O’Brien, Ian Evans, Dan Cole and Rory Best will be making their Lions debuts, while six of the starting team are backing up, having played off the bench against the Barbarians.
Tour Manager Andy Irvine said: "The lads who played in Hong Kong put down a marker as they performed extremely well in very tough conditions. I am sure that this team playing against the Western Force will be just as eager to show their mettle in Perth.
“I told the team in Hong Kong that they were custodians of the red jersey. That responsibility is now with this group of players and I am confident they will give their all against the Force. This is the first match of the tour in Australia and the Lions are keen to make a winning start here.”
Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “There were a lot of positives to come out of the first match in Hong Kong. Our fitness and application were excellent and we operated well in the set pieces. That said, it was our first match and naturally we were a bit rusty, and there is definitely room for improvement.”
“Of course this is a completely new team and the challenge is to ensure that the selected players continue the on-field progress we are seeking. With Brian at the helm you can be sure they will be ready to emulate the victory against the Barbarians. This is his fourth Lions tour and he is a respected leader.”
Some tickets are still available to see the Lions take on the Force in the opening match of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour. To get your tickets CLICK HERE
If you can't get to the game make sure you watch it LIVE on Fox Sports 2, Wednesday June 5th, at 6PM AWST/ 8PM AEST/ 7.30PM ACST, and if you're worrying about missing the State of Origin you can watch a replay on Fox Sports 1 at 8.30PM AWST/ 10.30PM AEST/ 10.00PM ACST so you'll be bale to watch the LIONS LIVE and still catch both games.
British & Irish Lions v Western Force, June 5, Patersons Stadium (1800AWST/2000AEST)
15. Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
14. Tommy Bowe (Ulster/Ireland)
13. Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland, captain)
12. Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers/England)
11. George North (Scarlets/Wales)
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/Ireland)
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland)
1. Cian Healy (Leinster/Ireland)
2. Rory Best (Ulster/Ireland)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers/England)
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales)
5. Ian Evans (Ospreys/Wales)
6. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England)
7. Sean O’Brien (Leinster/Ireland)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland)
16. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens/England)
18. Matt Stevens (Saracens/England)
19. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers/England)
20. Toby Faletau (Dragons/Wales)
21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England)
22. Owen Farrell (Saracens/England)
23. Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland)