Gatland makes three changes for Lions Test

Tue, 27/07/2021, 10:42 pm
by AAP
Conor Murray returns for the Lions. Photo: Getty Images
Conor Murray returns for the Lions. Photo: Getty Images

British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has turned to tour veterans Conor Murray and Mako Vunipola for Saturday's second Test against South Africa, also handing tough-tackling Chris Harris a first start, in three changes to last weekend's winning team.

Irish scrum half Murray and English prop Vunipola both came off the bench to help the Lions to a 22-17 victory at the Cape Town Stadium and now start the second match of the series at the same venue.

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Vunipola, 30, who played all three Tests on tour in Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017, replaces Scotland's Rory Sutherland. The 32-year-old Murray, also a veteran of two previous Lions tours, takes over at scrum half from Scotland's Ali Price.

Price and Sutherland are among the substitutes.

Murray will partner flyhalf Dan Biggar, who must however still complete his return-to-play protocol and assessment by an independent concussion consultant.

Gatland's other change is at outside centre where Elliot Daly failed to impact in Saturday's first Test and is replaced by Scot Harris.

Daly goes on the bench in place of Liam Williams, who drops out of the match-day 23.

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Gatland also added loose forward Taulupe Faletau, who has four Lions Test caps, to the bench ahead of Hamish Watson.

"As always, selection was incredibly tough," said Gatland. "However, we've made the changes we think are the right calls for the weekend's game.

"It'll be another tight contest. We know the Springboks will be hurting and they'll throw everything at us on Saturday, but ... we feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test.

"It's the biggest game on the tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it.

"We're relishing the opportunity to face the Springboks again on Saturday and potentially seal a series win," Gatland said.

LIONS (15-1): Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Chris Harris, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Conor Murray, Jack Conan, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Maro Itoje, Tadhg Furlong, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola. 

Replacements: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Taulupe Faletau, Ali Price, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly.

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