Perth - Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll will lead the British and Irish Lions in
their first tour game in Australia this week with skipper Sam Warburton
still out with a knee injury, officials said on Monday.
who missed the Lions' 59-8 hammering of the Barbarians in Hong Kong,
remains sidelined with ligament damage despite earlier comments that he
could feature against Western Force on Wednesday.
The Force are
promising a physical test for the 23-man match-day squad, which contains
eight Lions debutants and will not include any players who started
against the Barbarians on Saturday.
The Lions are seeking their
first Test series victory in 16 years, a barren spell which includes a
gripping 2-1 defeat to Australia in 2001.
Lions coach Warren
Gatland said with Irish centre O'Driscoll leading the side, the tourists
would be ready to start their visit to Australia with a win.
"This is his fourth Lions tour and he is a respected leader," Gatland said of O'Driscoll.
was given a steroid injection in Hong Kong and ordered to rest the knee
for five days after taking a knock in training 10 days earlier. He was
assessed again on Sunday before making the long-haul flight to Perth.
of Wednesday's team - Manu Tuilagi, Sean O'Brien, Ian Evans, Dan Cole
and Rory Best - will be making their Lions debuts, while six of them
played off the bench against the Barbarians.
"There were a lot of
positives to come out of the first match in Hong Kong," Gatland said.
"Our fitness and application were excellent and we operated well in the
"That said, it was our first match and naturally we were a bit rusty, and there is definitely room for improvement.
course this is a completely new team and the challenge is to ensure
that the selected players continue the on-field progress we are
Fullback Rob Kearney has a hamstring injury and will not
play against either the Force or the Reds on Saturday in
Brisbane, team officials added.
Meanwhile, the Force said they are preparing to give the Lions a torrid time in their first hit-out in Australia.
skipper Matt Hodgson said even if his team failed to beat the Lions,
they at least want to leave them with a few bumps and bruises. They will
name their side on Tuesday.
"I think any loss is going to be a
blow to them," Hodgson said. "They've probably come out and pencilled in
victories in most of their games leading up to the Test matches.
"So if we can't get the win, we're going to give them a solid performance and hopefully hurt a few of their bodies."Team: 15 Leigh
Halfpenny, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12 Manu
Tuilagi, 11 George North, 10 Jonny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie
Heaslip; 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn-Jones,
3 Dan Cole, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healey
Substitutes: 16 Tom
Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Toby
Faletau, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Sean Maitland