Alun Wyn Jones’ remarkable recovery from a shoulder injury sustained against Japan three weeks ago sees the Welsh enforcer pack down alongside Maro Itoje for the Lions in the first Test against the Springboks.
There were one or two surprises as Warren Gatland named his side to face off against the Springboks in Cape Town on Saturday. Remarkably, Jones returns as captain just 24 days after dislocating his shoulder against Japan at Murrayfield.
One selection that is already causing waves is Duhan van der Merwe getting into the side ahead of Josh Adams, with the Welshman not even making the matchday 23.
Both wingers have been sensational on this tour, albeit against very average provincial sides. Adams has bagged eight tires on tour while van der Merwe has helped himself to five. Neither played against South Africa ‘A’.
Alongside van der Merwe in the back three, Gatland has unsurprisingly opted to go with Anthony Watson on the right wing and the electric Stuart Hogg at 15. They’ll need to be at the top of their game with South Africa boasting arguably the best tactical kicking game in the world right now.
Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t room for Owen Farrell in the run-on XV, with Dan Bigger set to start at pivot and Robbie Henshaw selected to play at inside-centre. The England skipper will have some part to play, however, after being named on the bench.
British & Irish Lions: 15 Stuart Hogg (Scotland), 14 Anthony Watson (England), 13 Elliot Daly (England), 12 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), 11 Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland), 10 Dan Biggar (Wales), 9 Ali Price (Scotland), 8 Jack Conan (Ireland), 7 Tom Curry (England), 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain, Wales), 4 Maro Itoje (England), 3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (England), 1 Wyn Jones (Wales).
Subs: 16 Ken Owens (Wales), 17 Rory Sutherland (Scotland), 18 Kyle Sinckler (England), 19 Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), 20 Hamish Watson (Scotland), 21 Conor Murray (Ireland), 22 Owen Farrell (England), 23 Liam Williams (Wales).