Brisbane - Sam Warburton is all set to become the 800th player to wear the British & Irish Lions jersey in a competitive fixture when he finally makes his debut on the 2013 tour against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
The Cardiff Blues and Wales flank will become the last of the original
squad who left London on 27 May to make his Lions debut and to add to
the sense of occasion he will be leading the side for the first time as
Three times tourist Gethin Jenkins will join Warburton in making his
first appearance on the 2013 tour, while lock Geoff Parling, prop Matt
Stevens, hooker Tom Youngs and his brother and scrum-half Ben Youngs
will all make their run-on debuts for the Lions.
"Two games and two victories is great, but those two matches are
building blocks as we head towards the Test series. We always said we
would give every player a start in the first three matches and this team
reflects that. It also provides us with the opportunity to continue to
look at different combinations," said head coach Warren Gatland.
"For the Reds match this includes a new centre pairing and a different
front five. At the same time we have several players playing their
second matches on tour and some proven combinations starting the match -
Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell are the incumbent England halfbacks and we
have an all-Welsh backrow."
Warburton has fully recovered from the knee ligament strain he suffered
in training and will form an all Wales 2013 Grand Slam back row unit
with Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau, who will be seeing action for the
third game in a row.
Tour Manager Andy Irvine said: "We have played two matches so far and
done very well but the stakes get higher on Saturday against the Reds,
who are a leading Super Rugby side. It is the type of game we require at
this point in the tour and it will be a measure of how we are
progressing on the field.
"Tour captain Sam Warburton is the last of the 2013 tourists that has
yet to pull on the famous red jersey. He is now fit and raring to play
and it is great that he marks the occasion by becoming the 800th British
& Irish Lion."
The Reds, the 2011 Super Rugby champions, were the last Australian
state team to beat the Lions way back in 1971 - their second triumph
over the tourists to go with their first in 1899. Their matchday 23,
announced earlier in the day includes 12 Wallabies who hold 127
caps between them.
15 Ben Lucas, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11
Luke Morahan, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau
Robinson, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 3
Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 Ben Daley
Albert Ane, 17 Sam Denny, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Jarrad
Butler, 21 Jono Lance, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Dom Shipperley
British and Irish Lions:
15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Substitutes: 16-Richard Hibbard, 17-Mako Vunipola, 18-Adam Jones, 19-Paul O'Connell, 20-Justin Tipuric, 21-Conor Murray, 22-Jonny Sexton, 23-George North