Lions make 13 changes as Tadhg Furlong starts against Sharks

Three Irish forwards in pack as tourists look to end tough week with victory in Pretoria

Tadhg Furlong will start for the Lions against the Sharks on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The British & Irish Lions have made 13 changes to their starting XV for their second meeting with the Sharks on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria (kick-off 5pm, live on Sky Sports).

Only Elliot Daly and Duhan van der Merwe are retained from the 54-7 win over the same opposition on Wednesday and with tour captain Conor Murray again named on the bench as Gareth Davies is given his first start, the Saracens and England hooker Jamie George will captain the side.

A trio of Irish forwards are in the pack, with Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne and Jack Conan all starting.

The second game against the Durban-based Sharks replaces the scheduled Tour match against the Bulls, due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in their ranks.


A Lions statement confirmed that “earlier today the Tour PCR screening programme returned a negative set of results. On Wednesday 7 July, one member of staff tested positive for Covid-19. As a result, the individual and four close contacts (one player and three members of staff) are being isolated at the team hotel.”

“It’s obviously been a slightly turbulent week, but we remain determined to keep rolling with the punches,” said Warren Gatland.

“In many ways, the challenges we’ve faced this week have strengthened our resolve to do everything we can to overcome the challenges created by covid.

“The feeling in the camp on Wednesday night was just to give it a crack - I was really proud by how everyone reacted, particularly the match day squad who would have never prepared for a game like that before.

“Saturday is another opportunity to see how the boys go and for us as coaches to try out a few more combinations ahead of the Test series.

“I have long been an admirer of Jamie’s leadership skills, so I am delighted to name him skipper.

“We want to pass on thanks to the Sharks boys for fronting up and going again on Saturday. That’s the spirit of rugby, and a great chance for them to have another shot at us.”

Lions team to play the Sharks: Liam Williams; Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Chris Harris, Duhan van der Merwe; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rory Sutherland, Jamie George (capt), Tadhg Furlong; Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill; Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Jack Conan. Replacements: Ken Owens, Wyn Jones, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, Sam Simmonds, Tom Curry, Conor Murray, Finn Russell.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times