Rugby-Gatland rings Lions changes for decisive Boks test


Rugby Union - South Africa A v British and Irish Lions - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa - July 14, 2021 British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland before the match REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland reshuffled his backline and front row following last weekend's test drubbing against South Africa, as he made six changes for Saturday's decisive final match.

In the backs, Josh Adams, Bundee Aki and Liam Williams come in while Ali Price is restored at scrumhalf, replacing Conor Murray, for the third encounter at the Cape Town Stadium with the series poised at 1-1.

Wyn Jones is picked at loosehead to make his Lions test debut after having had to pull out of the first test with injury while Welsh teammate Ken Owens replaces Luke Cowan-Dickie at hooker.

Gatland also shook up the bench, dropping England captain Owen Farrell and replacing him with Finn Russell. Forwards Adam Beard and Sam Simmonds are also among the replacements for the first time in the test series.

Prop Kyle Sinckler is included subject to the outcome of a disciplinary hearing after being cited for an alleged biting incident in Saturday's second test defeat.

He will attend the hearing via video conference on Tuesday. If found guilty, the England front row could face a sanction of anything between three months and two years on the sidelines. He is alleged to have bitten South Africa second row Franco Mostert's arm during a ruck.

"The matchday 23 have an incredibly special opportunity in front of them – to seal a Lions Series victory in South Africa," said Gatland.

"It doesn’t get much bigger than this and we’re excited by the challenge that faces us on Saturday.

"We've no excuses from last week, the Springboks put us under pressure in the second half and deserved the win. We have to be much better than that second half performance, and I believe we will be."

South Africa were 27-9 winners last Saturday after the Lions won the first test 22-17.

Team:

15-Liam Williams, 14-Josh Adams, 13-Robbie Henshaw, 12-Bundee Aki, 11-Duhan van der Merwe, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Ali Price, 8-Jack Conan, 7-Tom Curry, 6-Courtney Lawes, 5-Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4-Maro Itoje, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 2-Ken Owens, 1-Wyn Jones

Replacements: 16-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17-Mako Vunipola, 18-Kyle Sinckler, 19-Adam Beard, 20-Sam Simmonds, 21-Conor Murray, 22-Finn Russell, 23-Elliot Daly.

(Editing by Angus MacSwan and John Stonestreet)

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