x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

O'Gara to lead Lions

The Irish fly-half will captain the British and Irish Lions in tomorrow night's clash against the Emerging Springboks at Newlands.

Ireland's fly-half Ronan O'Gara will captain the British and Irish Lions in tomorrow night's clash against the Emerging Springboks at Newlands. O'Gara becomes the fifth different skipper on tour, following Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll, Phil Vickery and Donncha O'Callaghan. O'Gara leads a side that contains six players who were involved in Saturday's 26-21 first Test defeat against world champions South Africa.

The Test substitutes O'Callaghan and Martyn Williams both start, while Test line-up members Ugo Monye, Lee Mears, Phil Vickery and David Wallace are on the bench. The side includes the props Tim Payne and John Hayes, who were only recently summoned to join the tour party. Payne, an England international, has flown out as cover for Andrew Sheridan, who has a back strain, while Hayes replaces ankle injury victim Euan Murray.

Tomorrow's game is the Lions' final midweek fixture of their 10-match tour. And it comes four days before the second Test in Pretoria, a game they must win to have any chance of claiming the series. The Lions head coach Ian McGeechan is due to name his Test team on Thursday, so there is an opportunity for several players to stake a claim against South Africa's second string.

McGeechan said: "There were many positives that came out of the Test match on Saturday. "The Emerging Springboks match, and our training this week, will allow us to build on these, plus address areas we know we need to improve on. "There is still a lot to play for, and the players are well aware of that.

"The mood in camp is still very positive due to the fact that we did come very close to winning on Saturday and the fact that we created so many scoring opportunities. "The players are well aware of the importance of the match tomorrow against the Emerging Springboks. We need to step up our performance against a talented outfit. "Tim Payne and John Hayes will start to give them immediate field time. This is important in terms of the balance of the squad, as three of our other props played in the Test match only two days ago and Andrew Sheridan is recovering from injury." As for O'Gara's appointment as captain, McGeechan added: "It is a well-deserved honour for a senior player who has served Munster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions with distinction." * PA Sport