Tadhg Furlong promoted to Lions starting lineup for Japan match

Irish tighthead prop takes the place of Zander Fagerson who has been ruled out

Tadhg Furlong with Jack Conan during British and Irish Lions training. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Tadhg Furlong with Jack Conan during British and Irish Lions training. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Tadhg Furlong will starts for the British and Irish Lions against Japan on Saturday after Zander Fagerson became the second Scotland international to be ruled out of action.

Fagerson has withdrawn from the front row because of a back spasm that prevented him from training on Thursday morning and is replaced at tighthead prop by Furlong, with Kyle Sinckler promoted to the bench.

The change means that all seven Irish players in the squad start Saturday’s first warm-up match in Edinburgh.

It also reduces the number of Scotland players in the starting XV from four to two, only wing Duhan Van Der Merwe and loosehead prop Rory Sutherland remaining in place. Ali Price offers scrum-half cover from the bench.

Flanker Hamish Watson pulled out on Wednesday to begin the return-to-play protocols for concussion after suffering a head injury in training 24 hours earlier, enabling Justin Tipuric to step in at openside.

Warren Gatland originally picked a large home contingent as a nod to the fixture being staged in Edinburgh, where a crowd of 16,500 will be present for only the Lions’ third ever match on these shores.

“It’s a shame for Zander not to be able to run out at Murrayfield as a Lion, but he’s not quite 100 per cent,” head coach Gatland said.

“He’ll get a chance to start in the next two games and stake a claim for a Test spot in South Africa, so it’s not worth the risk.”

Despite the drop-outs, England are still not represented in a Lions starting XV for the first time in 71 years, but Sinckler’s promotion means five of Eddie Jones’ men are on the bench.

It gives Sinckler an early opportunity to make an impact after he was initially overlooked for Lions selection in favour of Andrew Porter, whose tour was ended before it started due to a toe injury.

The Lions will play the first of eight fixtures on their tour to South Africa against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on July 3rd

British and Irish Lions: Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales); Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland), Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland); Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales), Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland); Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland), Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland); Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland), Alun Wyn Jones - Captain (Ospreys, Wales); Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland), Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland). Replacements: Jamie George (Saracens, England), Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England), Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland), Owen Farrell (Saracens, England), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England).

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