Lions team: Conor Murray to start in second Test against South Africa

Tourists know a win on Saturday will give them a series victory with a match to spare

Tom Curry, Conor Murray, Kyle Sinckler and Alun Wyn Jones during Lions training. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Tom Curry, Conor Murray, Kyle Sinckler and Alun Wyn Jones during Lions training. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Second Test: South Africa v British & Irish Lions

Kick-off: 5pm, Saturday. Venue: Cape Town Stadium. How to follow: The Irish Times liveblog will begin at 4.30pm. On TV: Live on Sky Sports Rugby and Sky Sports Main Event.

Conor Murray is one of three changes to the British & Irish Lions starting XV for Saturday’s second Test against the Springboks. The Irish scrumhalf is promoted from the bench, as is Mako Vunipola, while Scotland’s Chris Harris comes into the team to partner Robbie Henshaw in midfield.

Rory Sutherland, Ali Price and Elliot Daly move to the replacements, where Taulupe Faletau is promoted at the expense of Hamish Watson, perhaps partly to add to the physicality off the bench in the expectation that the Springboks revert to their 6-2 Bomb Squad.

Retaining Daly in the squad means that, a little surprisingly, there is no place for Liam Williams, a regular in the Test series four years ago in New Zealand.

The British & Irish Lions

Full coverage of all the action in South Africa READ MORE

Apart from Vunipola and Sutherland swapping places in the absence of the injured Wyn Jones, the starting pack remains unchanged, with Alun Wyn Jaones again captaining the side from the second-row alongside last Saturday’s man of the match Maro Itoje.

Dan Biggar will partner Murray at half-back, subject to completing the return-to-play protocol and assessment by an independent concussion consultant.

The Lions are seeking a series-clinching win in the second Test and historically they have lost just two Series after winning the first Test (against New Zealand in 1930 and Australia in 2001).

“As always, selection was incredibly tough,” said Warren 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 I think there’s plenty more to come from us too. We feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test and I would expect us to improve.

“It’s the biggest game on the Tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it. As players and coaches, these are the games you want to be involved in. We’re relishing the opportunity to face the Springboks again on Saturday and potentially seal a series win.”

British & Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland); Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England), Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland), Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland); Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales), Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland); Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland); Maro Itoje (Saracens, England), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales, capt); Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England), Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland).

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales), Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England), Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland), Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland), Owen Farrell (Saracens, England), Elliot Daly (Saracens, England).

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