British and Irish Lions vs Springboks team news rugby Test preview 2021

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Alun Wyn Jones will captain the British and Irish Lions for their opening Test against South Africa in Cape Town on Sunday (2am AEST, live on Stan Sport).

The Welsh lock recovered from a dislocated left shoulder that had originally ruled him out of the tour and will be making his 10th successive Test appearance for the Lions.

Jones’ inclusion in the starting lineup announced on Wednesday comes after he played 25 minutes in the Lions’ final warmup match against the Stormers over the weekend, with head coach Warren Gatland and his team satisfied with his fitness.

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“It’s a great boost to the squad and to everyone to have him back,” Gatland said.

“It’s great in terms of him making a brilliant recovery to make himself available again. He had to run out the other day and spend some time on the pitch, so it’s fantastic.”

The fit-again Robbie Henshaw also starts as he partners Elliot Daly in midfield, while Danny Biggar and Ali Price are paired together in the halves.

There is no place in the matchday 23 for in-form winger Josh Adams or loose forward Taulupe Faletau.

Meanwhile, Rugby World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi has recovered from COVID-19 and will lead South Africa.

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Kolisi was a huge doubt for the series opener having not played any part in the buildup after contracting the virus at the start of the month.

But he was back and will lead a matchday squad that includes 21 players who featured in the Springboks’ triumphant World Cup campaign in Japan in 2019.

“It was very important (to have him back as captain),” Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber said.

“He’s been a player that we’ve been with for quite some time, he knows our structures, and is our captain. He brings that calmness to the squad so we’re very happy to have him back.”

Like Kolisi, winger Makazole Mapimpi and forward Ox Nche were also in the starting XV having been among the players who were doubtful after being infected.

The trio was the last group of players to report for duty at the Springboks camp in Cape Town on Monday after completing mandatory self-isolation in Johannesburg.

More than a dozen players tested positive for COVID-19, but some sort of calm seems to have returned.

Vice captain Handre Pollard is named at flyhalf where he will win his 50th cap, alongside the dynamic Faf de Klerk at scrumhalf.

The pair, together with the entire pack of forwards, as well as fullback Willie le Roux all started in South Africa’s warmup against Georgia which the Springboks won 40-9 on July 3.

That was the only match they played since the World Cup final win over England in November 2019.

“The fact that most of the players participated in the Rugby World Cup means they know one another well on and off the field, and as coaches we know what they have to offer after having worked with most of them for several years,” Nienaber said.

LIONS (15-1): Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Danny Biggar, Ali Price, Jack Conan, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Tadhg Furlong, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Wyn Jones

Reserves: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Liam Williams

SPRINGBOKS (15-1): Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (c), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche

Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager, Rynhardt Elstadt, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Damian Willemse

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