Lions team announcement live updates: Breaking news as Warren Gatland reveals matchday 23

Analysing that expected team

So a reminder of that expected team from the Times.

Stuart Hogg is set for his first Lions cap on his third tour at full-back, while Anthony Watson and Duhan van der Merwe are on the wings. You sense there’s more than meets the eye with the ommission of Josh Adams – who had been superlative on this tour up to that clash with the Stormers on Saturday.

Perhaps, a week on from witnessing the birth of his first child over video call, management believe he’s not quite in the right place.

Midfield is one of the few areas where we have a partnership in this team that has played before – albeit against the Stormers four days ago – but Daly and Henshaw will be better for that experience.

Dan Biggar getting the nod is no surprise, but Ali Price starting is the sort of call you could have seen Gatland going either way with. If the start does come though, the Scotland star will have deserved it.

In the pack, Wyn Jones and Tadhg Furlong are no surprises – despite Furlong largely packing down alongside Rory Sutherland – while Luke Cowan-Dickie at hooker is not a surprise in terms of form, but perhaps because he seemed suited to the impact role Gatland has spoken about.

Maro Itoje and Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row is, despite all the talk of whether Jones would start after his comeback, the least shocking part of this team. He was always going to start once they brought him out.

The back-row though is fascinating. Tadhg Beirne is a tad unfortunate not to start, but Courtney Lawes will bring physicality.

Tom Curry ahead of Hamish Watson was widely expected, but few saw Gatland dispensing with Taulupe Faletau for Jack Conan.

In fairness, despite it seeming like sacrilege to not involve Faletau, Conan has been the best No. 8 on this tour.

As for the bench, it always felt like, with Daly somewhere in the 23, Gatland would have been tempted by the 6-2 split.

Iain Henderson, Watson and Beirne isn’t a bad trio to bring on, although Adam Beard can consider himself hard done by if that’s the case.


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Publish date : 2021-07-21 05:53:16

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