x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

O'Driscoll to lead new-look Lions

Brian O'Driscoll will captain the British and Irish Lions in their second tour match against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Brian O'Driscoll will captain the British and Irish Lions in their second tour match against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Ireland's Grand Slam skipper is one of 12 changes made by the head coach Ian McGeechan to the side following Saturday's 37-25 victory over the Royal XV. O'Driscoll last captained the Lions on the ill-fated night in 2005 when he suffered a dislocated shoulder only a minute into the first Test against New Zealand. Lions manager Gerald Davies said: "Everyone is also delighted that Brian O'Driscoll, the Irish Grand Slam skipper, will lead the team." David Wallace remains in the back row but switches to open side while Jamie Roberts and winger Tommy Bowe have also been retained.

Fullback Rob Kearney, winger Ugo Monye, flanker Tom Croft and lock Nathan Hines will all make their Lions debuts at Ellis Park. The No 8 Jamie Heaslip, scrum-half Mike Phillips, lock Alun-Wyn Jones, prop Phil Vickery and hooker Lee Mears all start after coming off the bench in Rustenberg at the weekend. McGeechan added: "The starting XV is very different to the one that played against the Royal XV on Saturday. "There are only three players backing up from that match but six of the replacements have been promoted to Wednesday's starting XV for the Golden Lions match. "This is in line with our intention that all players will play a full match in the first three matches on tour."

Stephen Jones, the Wales fly-half, get his first chance to compete for a Test jersey, replacing Ronan O'Gara, who scored 22 points as the Lions staged a late rally to win at the weekend. Gethin Jenkins also comes into the side while loose-forwards Stephen Ferris and Andy Powell, who were ruled out of Saturday's game with hand and calf injuries respectively, are on the bench. McGeechan has also included fly-half James Hook and hooker Ross Ford, who both received late call-ups, among the replacements. "The team has a very solid core, with Brian O'Driscoll, Stephen Jones, David Wallace, Phil Vickery and Gethin Jenkins, who are all very experienced internationals and previous Lions tourists," McGeechan said.

"David Wallace now has the opportunity to play at open side flanker following his selection at No 8 against the Royal XV. "Stephen Jones, who was a replacement in the last match but did not get a run, links up with his Welsh teammate and scrum-half Mike Phillips, giving the team an experienced halfback combination." Davies confirmed the Wales winger Leigh Halfpenny will be flying out to join the tour after recovering from a thigh injury which had forced him to remain at home. Halfpenny has been undergoing intensive treatment with the Cardiff Blues medics but they are now satisfied with his fitness levels. "We have had some encouraging and positive news regarding Leigh and he will come out as soon as possible," he said.

*PA Sport