x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Star pair back on centre stage

Brian O'Driscoll and Jamie Roberts will reprise their destructive centre partnership when the British & Irish Lions tackle the Sharks.

DURBAN // Brian O'Driscoll and Jamie Roberts will reprise their destructive centre partnership when the British & Irish Lions tackle the Sharks tomorrow. The head coach Ian McGeechan has continued to mix and match his selections as the first Test against South Africa looms large. But he has also returned to proven combinations in the form of O'Driscoll and Roberts, who proved almost unstoppable in the Lions' record 74-10 victory over the Golden Lions, and in the back row. The trio of Tom Croft, Jamie Heaslip and David Wallace will all start against the Sharks.

The Lions captain Paul O'Connell and O'Driscoll have been named in the same team for the first time on tour. O'Connell is one of four players to be thrust back into action after starting in Saturday's tough win over the Cheetahs. Others are Luke Fitzgerald, who returns to his natural position on the wing, Shane Williams and Lee Byrne. O'Connell will have a third different second row partner of the tour in Alun Wyn Jones.

The Lions are also trying new starting combinations in the half-backs, where Mike Phillips will link up with Ronan O'Gara, and in the front row with Lee Mears to hook between Welsh props Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins. McGeechan will use tomorrow's clash and Saturday's game with Western Province to finalise his plans for the first Test on June 20. Tour manager Gerald Davies said: "The important factor is that the Lions are unbeaten."

* PA Sport