After months of speculation off the field, the talking is now over and every player will know their exact role within the team. Many fans will have already predicted their own starting XV and in all honesty there was very little in the way of surprises when the official announcements were made earlier today.
Looking at the Lions team first and the big surprise comes in the shape of England prop Alex Corbisiero. Having been omitted from the original touring party announced back in April, Corbisiero was called up as a late replacement for injured Irishman Cian Healy and has only started one game in addition to appearances off the bench, since arriving from England’s own tour of Argentina.
Elsewhere in the starting XV and Jonathan Davies takes up the centre position alongside Brian O’Driscoll whilst Tom Youngs gets the nod ahead of Wales’ Richard Hibbard at hooker.
With a team consisting of eight Welshmen, captain Sam Warburton is also one of eight players making their Lions Test debut; joined by Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, George North, Davies, Jonny Sexton, Corbisiero and Youngs.
In the Australia camp, Robbie Deans has selected three players to make their Test debut in the gold and green. The most high profile of these is Israel Folau who made the move from rugby league international to Australian Rules football before switching to the union code. Folau is joined by Christian Leali’ifano at inside centre whilst Ben Mowen starts at blind-side flanker.
Elsewhere in the Australia team and James O’Connor starts only his second Test match in the fly-half position whilst his Melbourne Rebels team-mate Kurtley Beale is on the bench.
The first Test between the British & Irish Lions and Australia takes place this Saturday at 11:05am BST.
British & Irish Lions starting XV: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Alex Cuthbert (Wales), Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland), Jonathan Davies (Wales), George North (Wales), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Mike Phillips (Wales); Alex Corbisiero (England), Tom Youngs (England), Adam Jones (Wales), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Paul O’Connell (Ireland), Tom Croft (England), Sam Warburton (Wales, capt), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland).
Replacements: Richard Hibbard (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Dan Cole (England), Geoff Parling (England), Dan Lydiate (Wales), Ben Youngs (England), Owen Farrell (England), Sean Maitland (Scotland).
Australia starting XV: Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs); Israel Folau (NSW), Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW), Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies), Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds); James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels), Will Genia (Reds); Benn Robinson (NSW), Stephen Moore (ACT), Ben Alexander (ACT), James Horwill (Reds – capt), Kane Douglas (NSW), Ben Mowen (ACT), Michael Hooper (NSW), Wycliff Palu (NSW).
Replacements: Saia Fainga’a (Reds), James Slipper (Reds), S Kepu (NSW), Rob Simmons (Reds), Liam Gill (Reds) Nick Phipps (Rebels), Pat McCabe (ACT), Kurtley Beale (Rebels).
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