British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has named his side to take on Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday for The Lions 1888 Cup.
16,500 supporters will be welcomed to Scottish Rugby’s national stadium in Edinburgh for the first-ever clash between the Lions and the Brave Blossoms.
The game against the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists raises the curtain for the Lions’ eagerly awaited tour to South Africa, which culminates in the three-Test series against Rugby World Cup champions the Springboks.
“We’re anticipating a tough game against Japan – a side that like to play at a high tempo and shift the ball,” said Gatland.
“We saw throughout the World Cup they have attacking threats across the park and a solid defence and set piece.
“I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made during our training camp in Jersey so far, but we’ve a long way to go. You can see that the squad are starting to get to grips with our game strategies, but, as always with a Lions tour, this takes time to bed in.
“We’re in a good place, though, and I can tell there’s a lot more to come from this group.
“Everyone in the squad will get a start before the start of the Test series, so each member of the squad can put their hand up for Test selection.
“We are absolutely delighted to be playing in front of sixteen-thousand supporters in Edinburgh. I’m sure the crowd will give the players an enormous lift before we depart for South Africa on Sunday.”
The Lions’ eight-game tour of South Africa kicks off on Saturday, 3 July when they play the Emirates Lions at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Three weeks later, Cape Town Stadium will host the opening Test match of the 2021 Lions series – the first Lions Test in the Mother City since 1997.
The tourists then return to Gauteng and play the second and third Tests at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday, 31 July and 8 August, respectively.
British & Irish Lions – 15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Ian Henderson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Ali Price, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Anthony Watson.
Photo: Craig Williamson/SNS