Lions team to face Royal XV

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Lions team to face Royal XV

Ian McGeechan has stuck with his 1997 tactics by picking an exciting blend of potential Test players and ‘bolters’ in the opening game of the tour against a Royal XV.

Paul O’Connell leads the side out on the first game in their 10 match tour. The Irish lock will have over 500 caps at his disposal in a line-up that contains seven Welsh internationals and some well established combinations.

An all-Ospreys back three of Lee Byrne, Tommy Bowe and Shane Williams will be orchestrated by Ronan O’Gara at fly-half, while Keith Earls and Jamie Roberts both make their Lions debuts in the midfield. There is also an immediate chance for Mike Blair at scrum-half - a late call up for the injured Tomas O’Leary.

O’Connell will be partnered in the second row by Simon Shaw - the two seconds rowers are among only eight players in the squad to have featured on a previous Lions tour.

“For young men such as Keith Earls and Jamie Roberts it will be a day to remember and they will be thrilled to get an early taste of match action on the tour. Outside these guys is the proven experienced combination of the Ospreys’ back three of Byrne, Bowe and Shane Williams.” said McGeechan.

“Following excellent preparation and a period of acclimatisation in South Africa I know the lads are raring to go on Saturday against the Royal XV and will be anxious to get the tour off to the best possible start.”


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British & Irish Lions XV:

Backs:Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales), Tommy Bowe (Ospreys/Wales), Keith Earls (Munster/Ireland), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales), Ronan O’Gara (Munster/Ireland), Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland)
Forwards:Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England), Paul O’Connell (Munster/Ireland) captain, Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England), Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales), Andrew Sheridan (Sales Sharks/England)
Replacements:Lee Mears (Bath/England), Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England), Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Stephen Ferris (Ulster/Ireland), Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales), Stephen Jones (Scarlets/Wales), Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England)

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