Gatland rings the changes as Bowe returns for Lions
Five changes to line-up for second test against Australia, O’Brien and Murray on bench
That Gatland has also revamped his backrow with the inclusion of the big-tackling Lydiate, undoubtedly one of the coach’s favourite players, should stiffen up the fringes of the Lions’ defence, if potentially reducing their options at lineout time and pressure on the Wallabies’ throw.
“This is a do-or-die match for Australia and it’s going to be a real battle out there. We’ve decided to add a little bit more physicality to our side up front. Dan Lydiate brings that and then we have the explosiveness of Tom Croft and Sean O’Brien to come off the bench. We are really happy with the quality we have on the bench.”
“It just shows how strong the squad is and that we have a huge amount of competition. One or two changes were forced on us, and we’ve got a couple of players coming back from injury,” said Gatland.
“I don’t know who made that thing up about not changing a winning side – it is about picking the best team to do a job for us. We can win this series by winning on Saturday and that’s where our whole focus needs to be. The last thing we want to think about is being one-all and having to play another game in Sydney. Everything for us is about Saturday night.”
To that end, Gatland met with referee Craig Joubert yesterday to highlight his concerns about the high penalty count against the Lions last Saturday in Brisbane, especially in the tackle area.
“We’ve had a good meeting with Craig Joubert and we’ve got some clarity on the break down, which was good. The scrum started well, but we’ve got to ensure that we are accurate for the 80 minutes. We gave away one or two too many penalties last week, so our discipline needs to be really strong as well.”
Australia: Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels); Israel Folau (New South Wales Waratahs), Adam Ashley-Cooper (New South Wales Waratahs), Christian Leali’ifano (Brumbies), Joe Tomane (Brumbies); James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels), Will Genia (Queensland Reds); Benn Robinson (New South Wales Waratahs), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Ben Alexander (Brumbies); Kane Douglas (New South Wales Waratahs), James Horwill (Queensland Reds, capt); Ben Mowen (Brumbies), Michael Hooper (Brumbies), Wycliff Palu (New South Wales Waratahs). Replacements: Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds), James Slipper (Queensland Reds), Sakope Kepu (New South Wales Waratahs), Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds), Liam Gill (Queensland Reds), Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels), Rob Horne (New South Wales Waratahs), Jsess Mogg (Brumbies).
British & Irish Lions: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues/Wales); Tommy Bowe (Ulster/Ireland), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets/Wales), George North (Scarlets/Wales); Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/Ireland), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England); Makovina Vunipola (Saracens/England), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England), Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales); Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers/England); Dan Lydiate (Dragons/Wales), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues/Wales, capt), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland). Replacements: Richard Hibbard (Ospreys/Wales), Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers/England), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England), Sean O’Brien (Leinster/Ireland), Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland), Owen Farrell (Saracens/England), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues/Wales).