Alun Wyn Jones to lead Lions in Test opener against South Africa

Alun Wyn Jones will captain Lions in the first Test at Cape Town Stadium

Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones will be captaining the British and Irish Lions for the opening game of the three-match series against South Africa.

As reported earlier, Warren Gatland has preferred the 35-year-old to lead the side and will be part of the second row that also has Maro Itoje.

Dan Biggar has been chosen at fly-half over Owen Farrell, who will provide cover from the bench while Ali Price has been named at scrum-half over Conor Murray. Liam Williams has recovered from a concussion to find himself a spot on the bench with Stuart Hogg starting at fullback.

England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie starts ahead of Ken Owens while Jamie George is not part of the matchday squad and is joined on the sidelines by Josh Adams, Toby Faletau and Bundee Aki. Wyn Jones and Tadhg Furlong form the rest of the front-row

Duhan van der Merwe, who had an impressive series until now starts at left wing with Anthony Watson at right while Elliot Daly and Robbie Henshaw form midfield partnership.

“In my four tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the hardest Test selection I have been involved in,” Gatland said.

“We couldn’t have asked for more from the players so far – they’ve all put their hands up and made picking a starting XV incredibly difficult.

“In truth, we would have been happy with any number of different combinations across the 23. However, we’re very pleased with the side we’ve settled on.

“We know what we’re coming up against on Saturday. It’s going to be an arm-wrestle, there’s no doubt about it.

“We’ll need to front up physically and be ready to go from the first whistle. When we played South Africa ‘A’ last week we probably took a bit too long to get into the game – something we can’t afford to do that again this weekend.

“We need to make sure we play in the right areas of the field, not give them easy territory and take our chances when they come.

“While the stands will be empty in Cape Town Stadium, we know Lions fans from across the home nations will be cheering us on back home. We’ll do our best to get the win.”

British and Irish Lions: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Ali Price, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Wyn Jones

Reserves 16 Ken Owens, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Liam Williams


England Fixtures