Warburton back to lead B&I Lions
Warburton back to lead B&I LionsSHARE
British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton was named in the team to face the Reds on Saturday, after shaking off a knee injury which had ruled him out of the tour so far.
The 24-year-old Welsh flank missed the Lions' opening two wins – 59-8 over the Barbarians in Hong Kong and 69-17 over the Western Force in Perth – with ligament damage.
However, he will finally make his Lions debut in Brisbane on Saturday.
The Cardiff Blues forward will become the last of the original squad to make his Lions bow, while three-times tourist Gethin Jenkins will join Warburton in making his first appearance on the Australian tour.
Lock Geoff Parling, prop Matt Stevens, hooker Tom Youngs and his brother and scrumhalf Ben Youngs will all start for the Lions for the first time against a side featuring out-of-favour Australian flyhalf Quade Cooper.
"Two games and two victories is great, but those two matches are building blocks as we head towards the Test series," Lions head coach Warren Gatland said.
"We always said we would give every player a start in the first three matches and this team reflects that.
"It also provides us with the opportunity to continue to look at different combinations.
"For the Reds match this includes a new centre pairing and a different front five."
Several players will be playing their second matches on tour and some proven combinations will start the match – Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell are the incumbent England halves, and there is an all-Welsh back row.
Warburton has fully recovered from the knee ligament strain he suffered in training and he will team up with fellow Welsh loose forwards Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau, who will be in action for the third game in a row.
"We have played two matches so far and done very well but the stakes get higher on Saturday against the Reds, who are a leading Super Rugby side," said Gatland.
"It is the type of game we require at this point in the tour and it will be a measure of how we are progressing on the field."
The Reds, the 2011 Super Rugby champions, were the last Australian state team to beat the Lions in 1971.
The Lions won their tour opener 59-8 in Hong Kong and beat Western Force 69-17 in Perth on Wednesday.
British and Irish Lions: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Alun Wyn Jones, 19 Paul O'Connell, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Jonathan Sexton, 23 George North.
Date: Saturday, June 8
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.30 (10.30 UK & Ireland time, 09.30 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
TMO: TBC (New Zealand)