By Paul Jones
British & Irish Lions Head Coach, Warren Gatland, will be keeping his fingers crossed that the in-form Dan Biggar will pass the return-to-play protocols so he can retain his place in the starting line-up for the second test against South Africa on Saturday.
The Wales fly-half suffered a knock to the head in the first test last week and will now be assessed by an independent concussion consultant in the coming days in order to be given the green light to return to action.
Wales No.8 Taulupe Faletau is added to the bench and will win his fifth Lions Test cap should he enter the fray but there is no place in the matchday 23 for full-back Liam Williams.
Gatland has made three changes to the starting team which beat the Springboks last Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the Castle Lager Lions Series.
Conor Murray (Ireland), Chris Harris (Scotland) and Mako Vunipola (England) will all come into the side for the second Test against South Africa at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday 31 July (kick off 5pm BST).
Alun Wyn Jones will retain the captaincy and is set to win his 11th successive Lions Test cap.
The Welshman is again partnered by last Saturday’s player of the match, Maro Itoje.
Vunipola packs down with hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tadhg Furlong to complete the front row.
Courtney Lawes wins his fourth Lions Test cap on the blind side flank joining Tom Curry on the open side and Jack Conan at No. 8.
Harris joins Robbie Henshaw in midfield to win his first Test cap, while the back three of Anthony Watson, Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg stays the same.
Dan Biggar still starter?? Failed a HIA surely he needs to just take a break for at least this game
— Robbie 🏴 (@lfcrobbie24) July 27, 2021
Historically, the Lions have lost just two Series after winning the first Test (against New Zealand in 1930 and Australia in 2001).
“As always, selection was incredibly tough,” said Gatland. “However, we’ve made the changes we think are the right calls for the weekend’s game.
“It’ll be another tight contest. We know the Springboks will be hurting and they’ll throw everything at us on Saturday, but I think there’s plenty more to come from us too. We feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test and I would expect us to improve.
“It’s the biggest game on the Tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it. As players and coaches, these are the games you want to be involved in. We’re relishing the opportunity to face the Springboks again on Saturday and potentially seal a Series win.”
Saturday’s clash against the reigning World Champions is the second of three Tests matches in the Castle Lager Lions Series to be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports.
SOUTH AFRICA v THE BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
Saturday 31 July 2021
Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 5pm (BST)
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
14. Anthony Watson (England)
13. Chris Harris (Scotland)
12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)
10. Dan Biggar (Wales)
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)
1. Mako Vunipola (England)
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (England)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Maro Itoje (England)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, Captain)
6. Courtney Lawes (England)
7. Tom Curry (England)
8. Jack Conan (Ireland)
16. Ken Owens (Wales)
17. Rory Sutherland (Scotland)
18. Kyle Sinckler (England)
19. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
20. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
21. Ali Price (Scotland)
22. Owen Farrell (England)
23. Elliot Daly (England)