Welshman Dan Lydiate will captain the British and Irish Lions against the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park tomorrow. Geoff Parling was all set to lead the side, but the loss of Paul O’Connell has meant that things have had to be reshuffled.
O’Connell’s injury is a fracture of his lower right arm, ruling him out of the rest of the tour. He may stay on in an advisory capacity, a role that the 2009 Lions captain would clearly bring value in.
Ospreys second row Ian Evans will start against the Rebels in place of Parling, while Ireland and Ulster prop Tom Court has been drafted onto the replacements’ bench for Makovina Vunipola, who is being rested as cover for the 2nd Test due to Alex Corbisiero’s calf injury.
Tom Croft comes on to the bench for Evans. Manu Tuilagi gets a start after being out with a shoulder injury, while Rob Kearney get’s another opportunity at fullback.
“We are obviously delighted to start the Test series against the Wallabies with a win but this game is very important to us in terms of keeping the momentum going,” said tour manager Andy Irvine.
Those playing on Tuesday have a major part in delivering this and at the same time keeping the pressure on for Test match selection.”
British & Irish Lions
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Conor Murray, 1 Ryan Grant, 2 Richard Hibbard, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Ian Evans, 6 Dan Lydiate (captain), 7 Sean O’Brien, 8 Tangaki Taulupe Faletau
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Tom Court, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Stuart Hogg