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Lions and Springboks will name teams tomorrow ahead of second Test

Both camps will have weighed up changes to their starting XVs.

Warren Gatland and Rassie Erasmus.
Warren Gatland and Rassie Erasmus.

STICK OR TWIST? We will soon find out for certain how the Lions and Springboks have reacted to last weekend’s first Test.

Tomorrow will bring us team news from both camps and it will be intriguing to see how much change there is on each side.

Warren Gatland and his Lions coaches are in the happy position of having a 1-0 lead in the series but victory in last weekend’s first Test doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be selection changes confirmed tomorrow.

With loosehead prop Wyn Jones viewed as doubtful to return from his shoulder injury, Gatland and co. will have been weighing up bringing Mako Vunipola into the starting XV ahead of Rory Sutherland after his impactful performance off the bench last weekend.

Dan Biggar suffered a head injury but the Lions are optimistic he will complete his return-to-play protocols before the second Test, although there may be a change in midfield after Elliot Daly struggled to make his presence felt. Bundee Aki, Chris Harris, and Owen Farrell are all centre options. 

Gatland may also be tempted to make a change to his back three, with Liam Williams offering aerial quality and Josh Adams having shown good form on this tour. 

The truth is Gatland has competition for places in every area of his team. Conor Murray would dearly love a start at scrum-half, having come off the bench for Ali Price in the first Test.

To be fair to the Scottish scrum-half, he had a fine game and his kicking was important in the second half as the Lions grabbed hold of the momentum. Price said today that the competition for places has not prevented the Lions from building a positive atmosphere within the squad.

“When the team got announced last week before the first Test, Conor was the first to come and say, ‘Well done, mate,’” said Price.

ali-price Lions scrum-half Ali Price. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“When we got on the bus Gareth [Davies] was the same, shook my hand and said well done. We’re helping each other, Conor’s got that experience and when I came in at half-time he was first there saying, ‘You’ve gone well.’

“That gives you so much confidence when you hear that from a guy who has been there, and you know he was on the last Lions tour, and that’s all good to hear from my point of view. It’s been really enjoyable and we’ve all fed off each other.

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“At the same time, it’s friendly and we’re going for the same shirt. Once that’s been decided, we’re all backing the guy that’s going out there and playing.”

Meanwhile, the Boks have also been finalising their selection plans for the second Test.

The sense among the South African media seems to be that Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber will opt for a very settled team, backing their players to rebound from last weekend’s disappointment.

Number eight Kwagga Smith had a very tough second half and Jasper Wiese is another option in that jersey, although the Boks may simply reorganise themselves to ensure Smith isn’t left filling roles he’s not comfortable with.

Lood de Jager into the second row in place of Franco Mostert is another possibility, while the Boks will need to make a final decision on which of their front row units – Nché, Mbonambi, and Nyakane or Kitshoff, Marx, and Malherbe – starts the game. It was the former trio who were considerably more impressive last time out as the latter combination failed to make an impact off the bench.

All in all, it would be a surprise if either side made anything more than a handful of changes but these are vital decisions for Gatland as he looks to seal the series and Erasmus as he attempts to keep it alive into the third Test.

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Murray Kinsella

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