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Henshaw, Furlong and Conan start for Gatland's Lions in the first Test

Conor Murray and Tadhg Beirne have been included on the bench.

Henshaw and Conan both start.
Henshaw and Conan both start.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

WARREN GATLAND HAS included Irish trio Jack Conan, Robbie Henshaw, and Tadhg Furlong in a Lions starting XV captained by Alun Wyn Jones for Saturday’s first Test against the Springboks in Cape Town [KO 5pm Irish time, Sky Sports].

Conor Murray and Tadhg Beirne have been included on the bench but their Ireland team-mates Bundee Aki and Iain Henderson miss out on the matchday 23.

Gatland has selected a team including several surprises, with Conan’s form rewarded at number eight ahead of the highly experienced Taulupe Faletau, who is absent from the squad.

Furlong starts in a front row that also includes Wyn Jones and the in-form Luke Cowan-Dickie, while Maro Itoje partners the fit-again Jones in the second row. This will be Jones’ 10th successive Lions Test start.

Conan is in the middle of a back row that sees Courtney Lawes beat Beirne for the starting blindside slot and Tom Curry preferred to Hamish Watson on the openside. Watson and Beirne will both look to make an impact as replacements.

Murray also has to settle for a place on the bench as Gatland opts for in-form Scotland scrum-half Ali Price in the number nine shirt. Price will partner Dan Biggar in the halfbacks, with Owen Farrell joining Murray among the substitutes.

conor-murray Murray has to settle for a spot on the bench. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

After making his comeback from a hamstring injury last weekend, Henshaw partners Elliot Daly in midfield, with the versatile England international having impressed at outside centre on this tour.

Meanwhile, the back three is made up of the powerful Duhan van der Merwe on the left wing, Anthony Watson on the right, and Scotland captain Stuart Hogg at fullback. Wales’ Josh Adams misses out on the matchday squad as Liam Williams provides back three cover as a replacement.

Gatland has opted for a regular 5/3 split on his bench, with Ken Owens named ahead of Jamie George, Rory Sutherland preferred to Mako Vunipola, and Kyle Sinckler offering impact at tighthead.

Beirne will cover the second row and blindside flanker, while Watson is also primed provide an injection of power in the back row. Farrell covers out-half and inside centre, while Williams could come on at fullback or on the wing.

“In my four tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the hardest Test selection I have been involved in,” said Lions boss Gatland.

Lions (v South Africa):

15. Stuart Hogg

14. Anthony Watson

13. Elliot Daly

12. Robbie Henshaw 

11. Duhan van der Merwe

10. Dan Biggar 

9. Ali Price

1. Wyn Jones

2. Luke Cowan-Dickie 

3. Tadhg Furlong 

4. Maro Itoje 

5. Alun Wyn Jones (captain)

6. Courtney Lawes

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7. Tom Curry

8. Jack Conan

Replacements:

16. Ken Owens

17. Rory Sutherland

18. Kyle Sinckler

19. Tadhg Beirne

20. Hamish Watson

21. Conor Murray

22. Owen Farrell

23. Liam Williams

Referee: Nic Berry [Rugby Australia].

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Murray Kinsella

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