Phil Vickery captains a revamped Lions team for Saturday’s game at Newlands Stadium against Western Province.
England centre Riki Flutey gets his first start following his knee injury, and Martyn Williams gets to push his claims for a starting Test spot after recovery from his shoulder injury. They are joined by several other strong Test-team candidates, including wings Tommy Bowe and Ugo Monye, fly-half Stephen Jones and loosehead prop Andrew Sheridan.
Commenting on the team selection Head Coach Ian McGeechan said, “The coaching staff is very pleased with the way the squad reacted to some bad injury news this week. The players took the news on the chin, trained well, focussed on the next match and the performance against the Sharks was excellent.”
“The squad is very close as a group of players but now there is now a competitive edge developing as we approach the Test series. That is how it should be. I reminded the players when I told them the team to play Western Province that we were not selecting the Test side until next Tuesday following the Southern Kings match.”
“The team for Western Province will be captained by Phil Vickery who is one of the many leaders in the squad. It is just reward for a thoroughly professional player who will play in his tenth Lions match. Vicks is a former captain of England and he played three Lions tests against Australian in 2001.”
“No starting players are backing up from the Sharks match as we continue our desire to see all players involved in at least two full matches prior to Test selection. Martyn Williams comes into the starting XV following his recovery from a shoulder knock and Riki Flutey gets his first starting role after proving his fitness off the bench against the Sharks,” added McGeechan.
What do you think about the team?
Lions XV v Western Province: R Kearney (Leinster and Ireland); T Bowe (Ospreys and Ireland), K Earls (Munster and Ireland), R Flutey (Wasps and England), U Monye (Harlequins and England); S Jones (Scarlets and Wales), H Ellis (Leicester and England); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks and England), M Rees (Scarlets and Wales), P Vickery (Wasps and England, capt), D O’Callaghan (Munster and Ireland), N Hines (Perpignan and Scotland), J Worsley (Wasps and England), M Williams (Cardiff Blues and Wales), A Powell (Cardiff Blues and Wales).
Replacements: R Ford (Edinburgh and Scotland), E Murray (Northampton and Scotland), S Shaw (Wasps and England), T Croft (Leicester and England), M Blair (Edinburgh and Scotland), J Hook (Ospreys and Wales), G D’Arcy (Leinster and Ireland).