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Brian O'Driscoll named Lions captain for Western Force match

The centre is one of eight Irishmen named in the British & Irish Lions starting XV for Wednesday’s match.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

BRIAN O’DRISCOLL WILL lead the British and Irish Lions against Western Force in Perth on Wednesday in the second match of the 2013 tour.

The Leinster centre is one of eight Irish players named in Warren Gatland’s starting XV to take on the Australian Super Rugby team [10:30am kick-off Irish time]. He is the second Irishman to lead the Lions on tour after Paul O’Connell captained the team in Saturday’s 59-8 pasting of the Barbarians in Hong Kong.

O’Driscoll is partnered in midfield by Leicester Tigers’ Manu Tuilagi with Tommy Bowe on the right wing and George North on the left. Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny has been given the 15 jersey but neither Rob Kearney or Stuart Hogg are named on the bench. Ben Youngs [scrumhalf], Sean Maitland [wings, fullback] and Owen Farrell [outhalf, centre] will be asked to cover the backline.

Gatland revealed that Kearney had a grade one hamstring tear and is likely to miss Saturday’s game against Queensland Reds. The fullback’s fitness is a “concern” for the coaching staff.

There is an Irish pairing in the half-backs as Jonathan Sexton starts alongside scrumhalf Conor Murray. Cian Healy and Rory Best are joined by England’s Dan Cole in the front row with the Welsh duo of Alun-Wyn Jones and Ian Evans in the second row.

Brian O’Driscoll’s playlist is scrutinised by Paul O’Connell. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Sean O’Brien has recovered significantly enough from his knee knock to start at openside, with Tom Croft of Leicester at blindside and Jamie Heaslip at No. 8. Tour captain Sam Warburton is hoping to be fit to start in the back row for the upcoming match with the Reds. 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. That said, it was our first match and naturally we were a bit rusty, and there is definitely room for improvement.

“”f 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.”

Lions: Leigh Halfpenny, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (captain), Manu Tuilagi, George North, Jonny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Dan Cole, Alun-Wyn Jones, Ian Evans, Tom Croft, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Matt Stevens, Geoff Parling, Toby Faletau, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Sean Maitland.

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