Jamie George captains Lions as second Sharks clash gets green light

·3-min read
Jamie George will captain the Lions on Saturday (Getty Images)
Jamie George will captain the Lions on Saturday (Getty Images)

The British and Irish Lions’ hastily arranged tour game against the Sharks – the team’s second meeting in four days – has been given the go-ahead after the latest round of Covid testing.

The Lions had been due to play the Bulls on Saturday, but that game was cancelled after positive Covid tests in the Bulls camp. The Sharks, who the Lions played on Wednesday, have stepped up once more, making 11 changes to their starting side.

The Lions have all but one of their players available, because he and four members of staff are self-isolating because one of the staff tested positive for Covid-19.

A player also tested positive on Wednesday, but two rounds of testing have since proved that to be a false positive, freeing up that individual and eight others to play. The Lions have returned a full round of negative tests.

England hooker Jamie George captains the Lions for first time, leading a side showing 13 changes from Wednesday’s 54-7 win over the same opposition.

Anthony Watson and Gareth Davies are out of isolation and available to finally make their first starts of the tour, while only Elliot Daly and Duhan van der Merwe – who scored a hat-trick on Wednesday – are required to start again.

Stuart Hogg, who was withdrawn from the Lions bench on Wednesday, remains absent, and the Lions appear to still be short on backs, having opted for a 6-2 split on the bench. Finn Russell is involved in a matchday 23 for the third time in eight days.

“It’s obviously been a slightly turbulent week, but we remain determined to keep rolling with the punches,” said coach Warren Gatland.

“In many ways, the challenges we’ve faced this week have strengthened our resolve to do everything we can to overcome the challenges created by covid.

“The feeling in the camp on Wednesday night was just to give it a crack – I was really proud by how everyone reacted, particularly the match day squad who would have never prepared for a game like that before.

“Saturday is another opportunity to see how the boys go and for us as coaches to try out a few more combinations ahead of the Test series.

“I have long been an admirer of Jamie’s leadership skills, so I am delighted to name him skipper.

“We want to pass on thanks to the Sharks boys for fronting up and going again on Saturday. That’s the spirit of rugby, and a great chance for them to have another shot at us.”

Lions XV v Sharks:

15 L.Williams; 14 A.Watson, 13 E.Daly, 12 C.Harris, 11 D van der Merwe; 10 D.Biggar, 9 G.Davies; 1 R.Sutherland, 2 J.George (c), 3 T.Furlong; 4 M.Itoje, 5 J.Hill; 6 T.Beirne, 7 H.Watson, 8 J.Conan

Reps: 16 K.Owens, 17 W.Jones, 18 K.Sinckler, 19 C.Lawes, 20 S.Simmonds, 21 T.Curry, 22 C.Murray, 22 F.Russell

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