Murray returns to starting XV for second Lions Test

British & Irish Lions Head Coach, Warren Gatland, has made three changes to the starting XV which beat the Springboks last Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the Castle Lager Lions Series. 

“As always, selection was incredibly tough. However, we’ve made the changes we think are the right calls for the weekend’s game

Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said

Munster and Ireland’s Conor Murray, Scotland’s Chris Harris and England’s Mako Vunipola come into the side for the second Test against South Africa at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday 31 July, with kick off at 5pm BST. 

The formidable Alun Wyn Jones is named captain to win his 11th successive Lions Test cap. The Welshman is again partnered by last Saturday’s Castle Lager player of the match, England’s Maro Itoje.

20 July 2021; Conor Murray, right, and Alun Wyn Jones of The British & Irish Lions during Squad Training at Hermanus High School in Western Cape, South Africa. Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Sportsfile

Vunipola makes up the front row with fellow England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong. England’s Courtney Lawes wins his fourth Lions Test cap on the blind side flank after a stellar performance in the first Test. Joining him, is his England teammate Tom Curry on the open side and Ireland’s Jack Conan at number 8.

“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.”

Gatland added

Wales’ Dan Biggar is set to retain the number 10 shirt and will partner Murray. However, he is still subject to completing the return-to-play protocol and assessment by an independent concussion consultant.

Harris joins Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw in the midfield to win his first Test cap, while England’s Anthony Watson, is joined in the back three by Scotland’s Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg, who retains the number 15 jersey.

Wales’ Taulupe Faletau is added to a bench and will win his fifth Test cap should he enter the fray. 

24 July 2021; Conor Murray of the British and Irish Lions prior to the first test of the British and Irish Lions tour match between South Africa and British and Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Sportsfile

Historically, the Lions have lost just two Series after winning the first Test, against New Zealand in 1930 and Australia in 2001.

“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.”

Gatland said

Saturday’s clash against the reigning World Champions is the second of three Tests matches in the Castle Lager Lions Series, and will be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports. 

Saturday 31 July 2021 
Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town 
Kick-off: 5pm (BST) 

15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783 
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816
13. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844
12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #824  
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
9. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) #787 
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818  
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825
5. Alun Wyn Jones – Captain (Ospreys, Wales) #761
6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826   
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853
8. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839

16. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
17. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840
18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814
19. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838
20. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) #779
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #843
22. Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) #780 
23. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822

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