Alun Wyn Jones returned from injury in the British and Irish Lions’ victory over the Stormers on July 17
|Conference location: Cape Town Stadium Date: Saturday July 24th Start: 17:00 CEST|
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Alun Wyn Jones returns to captain the British and Irish Lions in the first Test against South Africa on Saturday, in a team that includes three Scottish players for the first time since 1997.
The Scrum half Ali Price is preferred to Conor Murray, while Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg are in the back three.
Ireland’s Jack Conan is eighth with no place in the squad for 2017 test starter Taulupe Faletau.
Head coach Warren Gatland said the XV’s choice was “incredibly difficult”.
“In my four tours as a Lions coach, this has been by far the toughest test pick I have participated in,” said Gatland.
“We couldn’t have asked more from the players so far; they all put their hands up and made it incredibly difficult to pick an XV starting place.
“Actually, we would have been happy about any number of different combinations across the 23rd. However, we are very happy with the team that we have chosen.”
After a miraculous recovery from a dislocated shoulder, Jones will become the first pro-era player to win 10 consecutive test caps for the Lions.
Elsewhere in the strikers, Luke Cowan-Dickie starts out as a hooker and sits in the front row alongside Welsh Wyn Jones and Irish Tadgh Furlong.
Maro Itoje joins Jones in the second row and resumed their partnership from New Zealand four years ago, while English couple Courtney Lawes and Tom Curry form the back row alongside Conan.
Dan Biggar is Price’s partner as a half-back, with Robbie Henshaw and Elliot Daly in midfield. England captain Owen Farrell is one of the substitutes.
That means there are six English, three Welsh, three Irish and three Scots to choose from.
The springbok announced their XV on Tuesday, with Captain Siya Kolisi after recovering from Covid-19.
The three-game test series will be played simultaneously on consecutive Saturdays at Cape Town Stadium from July 24th to August 7th.
Lions team meets South Africa: Hogg; A Watson, Daly, Henshaw, Van Der Merwe; Biggar, Price; W Jones, Cowan-Dickie, Furlong, Itoje, AW Jones (Capt), Lawes, Curry, Conan.
Replacement: Owens, Sutherland, Sinckler, Beirne, H. Watson, Murray, Farrell, L. Williams.