Murray returns to starting XV for second Lions Test

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British & Irish Lions Head Coach, Warren Gatland, has made three changes to the starting XV which beat the Springboks last Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the Castle Lager Lions Series.

“As always, selection was incredibly tough. However, we’ve made the changes we think are the right calls for the weekend’s game” Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said.

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Munster and Ireland’s Conor Murray, Scotland’s Chris Harris and England’s Mako Vunipola come into the side for the second Test against South Africa at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday 31 July, with kick off at 5pm BST.

The formidable Alun Wyn Jones is named captain to win his 11th successive Lions Test cap. The Welshman is again partnered by last Saturday’s Castle Lager player of the match, England’s Maro Itoje.

Vunipola makes up the front row with fellow England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong. England’s Courtney Lawes wins his fourth Lions Test cap on the blind side flank after a stellar performance in the first Test. Joining him, is his England teammate Tom Curry on the open side and Ireland’s Jack Conan at number 8.

“It’ll be another tight contest. We know the Springboks will be hurting and they’ll throw everything at us on Saturday, but I think there’s plenty more to come from us too. We feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test and I would expect us to improve,” Gatland added.

Wales’ Dan Biggar is set to retain the number 10 shirt and will partner Murray. However, he is still subject to completing the return-to-play protocol and assessment by an independent concussion consultant.

Harris joins Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw in the midfield to win his first Test cap, while England’s Anthony Watson, is joined in the back three by Scotland’s Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg, who retains the number 15 jersey.

Wales’ Taulupe Faletau is added to a bench and will win his fifth Test cap should he enter the fray.

Historically, the Lions have lost just two Series after winning the first Test, against New Zealand in 1930 and Australia in 2001.

“It’s the biggest game on the tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it. As players and coaches, these are the games you want to be involved in. We’re relishing the opportunity to face the Springboks again on Saturday and potentially seal a Series win.” Said Gatland.

Saturday’s clash against the reigning World Champions is the second of three Tests matches in the Castle Lager Lions Series, and will be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports.


SOUTH AFRICA v THE BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
Saturday 31 July 2021
Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 5pm (BST)

15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844
12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #824
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
9. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) #787
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825
5. Alun Wyn Jones – Captain (Ospreys, Wales) #761
6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853
8. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839

Replacements:
16. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
17. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840
18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814
19. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838
20. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) #779
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #843
22. Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) #780
23. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822

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