Anthony Watson shifts to full-back as Warren Gatland makes 12 changes to his Lions team for clash against South Africa A on Wednesday with Conor Murray captaining the side
- Lions head coach Warren Gatland has rung the changes for the match this week
- Anthony Watson starts at full-back on Wednesday in Stuart Hogg’s absence
- Gatland says the South Africa A game will be their ‘toughest encounter yet’
- Wales’ Dan Biggar starts at fly-half while Conor Murray captains the XV
Anthony Watson has been handed a chance to snatch the Lions’ No 15 jersey in Wednesday’s match against South Africa A.
With Stuart Hogg absent for a third game in a row, Watson has been switched from winger to full-back for the Cape Town clash.
Warren Gatland has made 12 changes to the team that beat Sharks – and the head coach believes his side will face their ‘toughest encounter’ yet.
Anthony Watson has been handed a chance to snatch the Lions’ No 15 jersey this week
Lions head coach Warren Gatland has decided to make 12 changes for Wednesday’s contest
15. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) #846
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) #837
11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) #836
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
9. Conor Murray – captain (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) #842
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825
5. Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) #808
6. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby, Wales) #854
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) #779
Fly-half Dan Biggar, centre Chris Harris and Watson are the only players to retain their places in the XV, which will be captained by scrum-half Conor Murray.
‘We’re pleased to have arrived in Cape Town as we near the halfway stage of the Series,’ said Gatland.
‘Wednesday’s game against South Africa ‘A’ will be our toughest encounter since we arrived here and we’re looking forward to it.
‘As coaches we want the players to make Test selection as hard as possible and that’s what we’re seeing.’
Watson will combine in the back-three with wingers Louis Rees-Zammit and Josh Adams.
The continued absence of injured Robbie Henshaw means Gatland will look at a new centre combination of Harris and Bundee Aki.
In the pack, Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Kyle Sinckler all start in the front-row, with Maro Itoje recovering from a stomach bug to form a lock combination with Iain Henderson.
‘We expect them to be physical in the contact area and look to test us at scrum time,’ said Gatland.
‘I think we’ve benefitted from playing at altitude in the first three games. While the boys have felt it in their lungs, they’ll be all the better for it now we’re at sea level.
‘As we move towards the business end of the Tour, it’s pleasing to see so many players putting in some stand-out performances.’
Toby Faletau starts at No 8, with Josh Navidi and Tom Curry combining at flanker.
Replacements: 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851, 17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) #787, 18. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #848, 19. Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales) #852, 20. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838, 21. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) #849, 22. Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) #850, 23. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822
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