British & Irish Lions hope to maintain unbeaten run

The British and Irish Lions will attempt to win their fifth tour match in succession Saturday when a full-strength lineup expected to feature prominently in the first test against Australia takes on the Waratahs.

The Waratahs have recalled captain Dave Dennis and center Rob Horne, who were released from international duty to take on the Lions.

Openside flanker Pat McCutcheon will return from a knee injury for the Waratahs.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we want it to be something worth remembering,” Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said.

“We’re going to go for it. We can’t be looking for a glorious defeat. As a player, you want to say that you played in an international-level fixture and you made something of it.”

Ireland’s Simon Zebo was rushed straight into the Lions team when it was announced this week and will start on the left wing against New South Wales.

Zebo only arrived in Australia on Tuesday as an injury replacement after playing for Ireland against the U.S. Eagles in Houston, Texas last weekend.

Saturday’s lineup, which will be led by tour captain Sam Warburton, is expected to be similar to the one which will face Australia in the first test on June 22. The Lions’ next match after Saturday’s encounter is Tuesday against the ACT Brumbies, giving any starter in that game only four days to recover for the test.

Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton is in the starting lineup against the Waratahs after recovering from a tight hamstring. The backline also features Wales players Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts and Mike Phillips.

Lions coach Warren Gatland said winger George North (hamstring) and Manu Tuilagi (shoulder) appear to be the team’s main fitness concerns for the opening test.

Props Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins have already left the tour with injuries, and winger Tommy Bowe is recovering from a broken hand.

Alex Corbisiero and Ryan Grant joined Zebo as fly-ins to the squad, while Billy Twelvetrees is due to arrive from England’s Argentina tour late Friday.

Gatland sees the need for a bigger initial pool of players on future tours. The Lions named an original squad of 37 players.

“I think that as you move from one tour to the next, you realize how tough it is, especially for the players,” Gatland said.

“The game’s physicality has increased from 2009 (Lions tour) in South Africa. It has stepped up a level, and players handling two games in a week is tough. It is something we need to be mindful of … to consider whether there is a case for bigger squads from the start because of this step up in physicality.”

The Lions, aiming for their first series win since 1997, will play the second test against the Wallabies in Melbourne on June 29 and the third in Sydney on July 6.

The Bookies have given the Waratahs a 23 point start for this Match – with an offer of a FREE $150 BET.


British and Irish Lions: Leigh Halfpenny, Sean Maitland, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Simon Zebo, Jonathan Sexton, Mike Phillips; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Paul O’Connell, Tom Croft, Sam Warburton (captain), James Heaslip.

Replacements : Richard Hibbard, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Robert Kearney.

Waratahs : Jeremy Tilse, John Ulugia, Paddy Ryan, Will Skelton, Ollie Atkins, Jed Holloway, Pat McCutcheon, Dave Dennis (captain), Brendan McKibbin, Bernard Foley, Peter Betham, Tom Carter, Rob Horne, Cam Crawford, Drew Mitchell.

Replacements : Luke Holmes, Richard Aho, Sam Talakai, Lopeti Timani, A.J. Gilbert, Matt Lucas, Ben Volavola, Tom Kingston.

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