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4 Irishmen named in Lions team for First Test with Wallabies

Sam Warburton will captain the side against Australia and is joined in the back row by Jamie Heaslip.

Brian O'Driscoll starts in the Lions midfield.
Brian O'Driscoll starts in the Lions midfield.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

SAM WARBURTON WILL captain a Lions side that includes four Irishmen against the Wallabies in Brisbane this Saturday. The Welsh flanker is joined by seven of his countrymen in the starting XV.

The Irish contingent includes Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Jonathan Sexton and Jamie Heaslip. The good news for the quartet is tempered by the absence of any Irishmen on the replacements bench.

Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “After six matches we have arrived at the First Test and have selected our strongest possible side with only Jamie Roberts,Tommy Bowe and Manu Tuilagi unavailable for selection.

The Wallabies at home pose a huge challenge but the Test team contains 20 of the players that played against the Waratahs in what was our best match to date. We now have a couple of more days of match preparation to ensure we improve again on that performance.”

As expected, the back three is all-Welsh with fullback Leigh Halfpenny joined by wingers George North and Alex Cuthbert. O’Driscoll starts at outside centre and is partnered by Jonathan Davies. Scrumhalf Mike Philips continues his burgeoning halfback relationship with Sexton.

Paul O’Connell starts in the second row but Conor Murray misses out on the bench. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

The front row announcement contained two minor surprises, with Alex Corbisiero preferred at looshead to Mako Vunipola and Tom Youngs selected ahead of Richie Hibbard. Adam Jones starts at tighthead. O’Connell and Alun Wyn Jones resume their Test partnership from 2009 in the second row. Warburton is named at openside with Tom Croft getting the nod at blindside flanker and Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip given the No.8 jersey.

There is Irish disappointment in terms of bench spots, with Sean O’Brien, Conor Murray, Rob Kearney, Rory Best and Simon Zebo all missing out. Kiwi-born Sean Maitland is the only Scotland international in the side. He will cover fullback and wings, while Owen Farrell will deputise for Sexton and the starting centres.

Lions XV to face Australia: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Brian O’Driscoll, Jonathan Davies, George North; Jonathan Sexton, Mike Phillips; Alex Corbisiero, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones; Alun Wyn Jones, Paul O’Connell; Tom Croft, Sam Warburton (c), Jamie  Heaslip.

Replacements: Richie Hibbard, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Sean Maitland.

*What do you make of the selections?

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Patrick McCarry

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