O’Driscoll to captain Lions against the Force

Former British & Irish Lions tour captain Brian O’Driscoll will captain the British and Irish Lions on Wednesday against the Western Force in Perth.

The 34-year-old was captain of the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand but his tour was cut short due to injury.

O’Driscoll takes over from his Ireland international team-mate Paul O’Connell, who captained the Lions against the Barbarians on Saturday.

Welshman Sam Warburton was named as captain for the tour but he is recovering from a knee injury.

The starting XV does not include any of the players that started against the
Barbarians in Hong Kong last Saturday.

Five of the starting team, Manusamoa Tuilagi, Sean ‘Brien, Ian Evans,
Dan Cole and Rory Best will be making their Lions debuts, while six of the starting
team are backing up, having played off the bench against the Barbarians.

Tour Manager Andy Irvine said: “The lads who played in Hong Kong put down
a marker as they performed extremely well in very tough conditions. I am sure
that this team playing against the Western Force will be just as eager to show
their mettle in Perth.

“I told the team in Hong Kong that they were custodians of the red jersey.
That responsibility is now with this group of players and I am confident they
will give their all against the Force. This is the first match of the tour in
Australia and the Lions are keen to make a winning start here.”

Head Coach Warren Gatland said: “There were a lot of positives to come
out of the first match in Hong Kong. Our fitness and application were excellent
and we operated well in the set pieces. That said, it was our first match and
naturally we were a bit rusty, and there is definitely room for improvement.”

“Of course this is a completely new team and the challenge is to ensure
that the selected players continue the on-field progress we are seeking. With
Brian at the helm you can be sure they will be ready to emulate the victory
against the Barbarians. This is his fourth Lions tour and he is a respected
leader.”

British and Irish Lions team

Leigh Halfpenny, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (captain), Manu Tuilagi, George North, Jonny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Dan Cole, Alun-Wyn Jones, Ian Evans, Tom Croft, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Matt Stevens, Geoff Parling, Toby Faletau, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Sean Maitland.

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