The Lions have retained only 3 of the starting XV that struggled against the Royal XV, with Jamie Roberts, Tommy Bowe and David Wallace all given another starting berth to enhance their chances. Whilst Roberts and Bowe showed hunger and potential in the stuttering performance against the Royal XV, Wallace gave an indifferent display at Number 8 after filling in at the last minute for Andy Powell. However, Martyn Williams’ relatively quiet game at openside has given Wallace a chance to stake his claim for his preferred position. Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip join Wallace in what is a markedly more mobile back row unit.
Wales halfbacks Mike Phillips and Stephen Jones are both promoted from the bench to the starting line up – and with Ian McGeechan looking at combinations, both players will be looking to bring their national team partnership to the fore for the Lions.
Ireland duo Donncha O’Callaghan and Luke Fitzgerald are now the only two Lions yet to feature in a matchday 22.
Head coach Ian McGeechan has admitted this will be a challenge for his team and claimed to be happy with his side’s preparation despite their mixed performance on Saturday.
“The starting XV is very different to the one that played against the Royal XV on Saturday,” he said.
“There are only three players backing up from that match, although six of the replacements have been promoted to the starting XV. This is in line with the policy that all players will play a full match in the first three matches on tour.
“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.
“David Wallace now has the opportunity to play at openside 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 team-mate and scrum-half, Mike Phillips, giving the team an experienced halfback combination.
“The team has trained well. We have worked on several key areas following the first match, which has given us a base on which to keep developing our game.”
Will this team perform better than Saturday’s Lions?
What do you think?
British & Irish Lions v Golden Lions – 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O’Driscoll (c), 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Phil Vickery, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Subs: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Euan Murray, 18 Stephen Ferris, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Harry Ellis, 21 James Hook, 22 Shane Williams.