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Conan set to start as Gatland brings Test team announcement forward

Conor Murray may have to settle for a place on the bench against the Springboks.

Conan has been in excellent form.
Conan has been in excellent form.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

IRELAND’S JACK CONAN is set to be named in the Lions’ starting XV for Saturday’s first Test against the Springboks in Cape Town, but Conor Murray may have to settle for a place on the bench.

News of the Lions’ possible starting XV was first reported by The Times in the UK.

Conan appears to have beaten off the competition of Taulupe Faletau for the number eight jersey in a pack that also looks certain to contain Ireland tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong.

However, Robbie Henshaw could be the only Irish member of the backline with Scotland’s Ali Price now in line to start at scrum-half ahead of Murray after a string of impressive performances in the number nine shirt on tour.

It would be a disappointment for Murray to have to settle for a place on the bench, particularly given that he was appointed as the Lions’ tour captain when Alun Wyn Jones appeared to be ruled out of the tour with a shoulder injury.

Jones is now back as tour captain and having made his return off the bench last weekend against the Stormers, the Welshman is set to start as captain this weekend against the Springboks.

The Lions bench could also include Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson. 

The Lions are now due to officially name their matchday 23 at 10am Irish/UK time tomorrow. Their team naming had been planned for Thursday morning but the announcement has been brought forward by a day.

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Earlier today, the Springboks announced their matchday 23 to face the Lions, with captain Siya Kolisi passed fit to start after his recent Covid-enforced isolation.

Originally published at 20.15

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