O'Driscoll leads Lions against Force

Mon, 03 Jun 2013 07:35
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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll will captain the B&I Lions in their first tour game in Australia, against Western Force in Perth on Wednesday.

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll will captain the British and Irish Lions in their first tour game in Australia, against Western Force in Perth on Wednesday.

The 23-man team contains eight new Lions.

The starting XV does not include any of the players that started against the Barbarians in Hong Kong last Saturday.        

Five of the starting team, Manusamoa Tuilagi, Sean O'Brien, Ian Evans, Dan Cole and Rory Best will be making their Lions debuts, while six of the starting team are backing up, having played off the bench against the Barbarians.

"The lads who played in Hong Kong put down a marker as they performed extremely well in very tough conditions," tour manager Andy Irvine said.

I am sure that this team playing against the Western Force will be just as eager to show their mettle in Perth.

"I told the team in Hong Kong that they were custodians of the red jersey.

"That responsibility is now with this group of players and I am confident they will give their all against the Force. This is the first match of the tour in Australia and the Lions are keen to make a winning start here."

Head Coach Warren Gatland said there were a lot of positives to come out of the first match in Hong Kong.

"Our fitness and application were excellent and we operated well in the set pieces," Gatland said.

"That said, it was our first match and naturally we were a bit rusty, and there is definitely room for improvement.

"Of course this is a completely new team and the challenge is to ensure that the selected players continue the on-field progress we are seeking.

"With Brian at the helm you can be sure they will be ready to emulate the victory against the Barbarians. This is his fourth Lions tour and he is a respected leader."

British and Irish Lions: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 George North, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Toby Faletau, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Sean Maitland.

Date: Wednesday, June 5
Venue: Patersons Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 18.00 (11.00 BST time; 10.00 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
TMO: TBC (New Zealand)

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