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O'Driscoll leads B&I Lions again

Sun, 09 Jun 2013 08:46
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Hogg to play pivotal role
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Stuart Hogg has been switched to flyhalf as one of three British and Irish Lions to play their second consecutive tour match in four days against a Combined Queensland-New South Wales Country team on Tuesday.

Hogg, lock Richie Gray and wing Alex Cuthbert were named Sunday to start for the Lions against Combined Country in Newcastle, with explosive Welsh wing George North also getting a start after coming off the bench in the tourists' 22-12 win over the Queensland Reds on Saturday.

With Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell both rested, the Scotland fullback will start in a position he last played at school.

Hogg, who played at fullback against the Reds, will partner Ireland's Conor Murray in the halves.

Irish star Brian O'Driscoll will reunite with Welshman Jamie Roberts in the centres for the first time since their four games during the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa including the first two Tests.

O'Driscoll will captain the Lions for the second time on tour, while replacement props Alex Corbisiero and Ryan Grant will make their first Lions appearances after joining the squad as replacements for repatriated forwards Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins.

"The Reds game was always going to be a big challenge and I was delighted at the victory and the way we were tested," head coach Warren Gatland said of Saturday's bruising encounter with Queensland.

"It was a very physical match, as we knew it would be. We now move on to Newcastle and another challenge.

"This team to play Country includes three players - Richie Gray, Alex Cuthbert and Stuart Hogg - who are starting their second game in a row, plus another, George North, who came off the bench early against the Reds.

"This is the nature of Lions tours as we adapt to injuries and playing twice a week."

Tour manager Andy Irvine paid tribute to the Quade Cooper-led Reds for giving the Lions such a stern tussle in Brisbane.

"We are delighted to have kept our unbeaten record intact. We were pushed all the way by an extremely skilful and committed Reds team that played some brilliant intuitive rugby," Irvine said.

"However, I was incredibly proud of the way we responded and how we defended right to the bitter end. The win will be a tremendous boost to our confidence for the forthcoming Test series."

Irvine said he expected another tough match on Tuesday, saying there was "no doubt that the Combined Country players match will regard the game as their cup final".

"But we are getting stronger each week, combinations are starting to take shape and we will be determined to head for Sydney [Saturday's match against the Waratahs] with another sound win."

British and Irish Lions: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Stuart Hogg, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Toby Faletau, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Jonathan Davies, 23 Leigh Halfpenny.

Date: Tuesday, June 11
Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-off: 19.30 (10.30 UK & Ireland time; 09.30 GMT)
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), James Leckie (Australia) Television
TMO: TBC

AFP

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