O’Brien to start against Rebels

Four Irish players will get chance to stake their claims for second test when Lions face Melbourne on Tuesday

Sean O’Brien in action against the Combined Country earlier on the tour. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Sean O’Brien in action against the Combined Country earlier on the tour. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images


Sean O’Brien will get his chance to force his way onto the bench for the second test against Australia next weekend when he lines out for the British and Irish Lions against the Melbourne Rebels on Tuesday morning. The Leinster backrow has been named at openside flanker Warren Gatland’s selection and is one of four Irish internationals to start at Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium.

Rob Kearney could also come into the reckoning for a spot among the replacements after he was named at fullback while Simon Zebo and Conor Murray also start against the Rebels.

Coach Warren Gatland has charged his midweek team to keep up the momentum from Saturday’s first test victory.

Four players who featured as replacements in Brisbane test – second row Geoff Parling, flanker Dan Lydiate, prop Dan Cole and hooker Richard Hibbard - get a chance to promote their claims for a starting spot in the second test down the road at Dockland’s stadium.

Lydiate starts at blindside with O’Brien getting a first outing in three matches on the openside in what looks like a straight audition for a place on the bench next weekend.

England centre Manu Tuilagi returns after two weeks out with a shoulder injury and will be hoping to do enough to secure a place among the replacements at least. Gatland has taken a bit of a gamble on starting Owen Farrell and will be praying his only specialist outhalf apart from test starter Jonny Sexton comes through the match unscathed.

“We’ve picked a really strong side as well with guys that were on the bench last night who will get a chance to start,” Gatland said today. “We felt it was important to pick a team that could go out and do a job for us and continue building on last night’s result.

“We know the performance wasn’t brilliant but it was all about the result and then hopefully giving us a kick-start into next week.”

Melbourne Rebels: Jason Woodward: Tom English, Mitch Inman, Rory Sidey, Lachlan Mitchell; Bryce Hegarty, Luke Burgess; Nic Henderson, Ged Robinson, Laurie Weeks Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Jarrod Saffy, Scott Fuglistaller, Gareth Delve (captain). Replacements: Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah Nau, Paul Alo-Emile, Luke Jones, Jordy Reid, Nic Stirzaker, Angus Roberts, Cooper Vuna.

British & Irish Lions: Rob Kearney, Sean Maitland, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Simon Zebo; Owen Farrell, Conor Murray; Ryan Grant, Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole; Richie Gray, Geoff Parling (captain); Dan Lydiate, Sean O’Brien, Toby Faletau. Replacements: Rory Best, Mako Vunipola, Matt Stevens, Ian Evans, Justin Tipuric, Ben Youngs, Billy Twelvetrees, Stuart Hogg