British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland said on Tuesday he had picked a team for the second Test aimed at preventing the Springboks from getting back into the three-match series.
Gatland announced a team with three changes in the starting lineup from the side that won the first Test 22-17 in Cape Town last week. The second Test will be at the same venue on Saturday.
Centre Chris Harris, scrumhalf Conor Murray and loosehead prop Mako Vunipola replace Elliot Daly, Ali Price and Rory Sutherland.
“They’ll be desperate,” Gatland said of the Springboks, “while we have a chance to win the series. I’ve told the players we’ve got to be mentally right because we don’t want them to use a get-out-of-jail card.
“We gave away a number of penalties in the first half but we were much more disciplined in the second half,” said Gatland. “Our focus is on starting well.”
The Lions trailed 12-3 at half time in the first Test.
The 1.88m, 104kg Harris has been brought into midfield to counter what Gatland expects to be another direct, physical approach from the Springboks, while Murray was steady when he came on as a second-half replacement.
Gatland said the attacking skills of Daly and Price could be used in the second half when the game “might open up a bit”.
The elevation of England forward Vunipola caps a remarkable promotion for a player who was not in the original match-day 23 for the first Test.
Vunipola was brought into the squad on the morning of the match because of a shoulder injury to Wales prop Wyn Jones.
He made a big impact as a second-half replacement as the Lions successfully negated the threat of what was regarded as a powerful Springbok replacement front row.
Gatland said he was pleased with the way the Lions had performed in the scrums and mauls this past Saturday, while allowing the Springboks only four lineout throws.
“Take that [forward superiority] away from them and they don’t really have a set piece to launch from,” he said.
Murray will partner Dan Biggar, provided the flyhalf is cleared to play after being concussed during the first Test.
“He’s doing well but we’re going through the protocols,” said Gatland.
Loose forward Taulupe Faletau is added to the replacements in place of Hamish Watson in another move, which Gatland suggested could add to the Lions’ attacking capabilities in the second half.
Gatland said leaving Liam Williams out of the match-day 23 was a tough call motivated by Daly’s ability to cover fullback, wing and outside centre from the bench.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix