Alun Wyn Jones has made a remarkable return from injury to be named on the bench for the British & Irish Lions’ final tour game against the Stormers on Saturday.
On Thursday, coach Warren Gatland named his team to face the Cape-based side, and notably jettisoned Jones straight back into the squad.
The Wales lock, who dislocated his shoulder during the 1888 Cup game against Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday, 26 June, has only just flow in to Cape Town after completing a quicker-than-expected recovery.
Meanwhile, following a period of isolation in Johannesburg, Stuart Hogg was named captain of a brand new starting XV from the one that went down 17-13 to South Africa A on Wednesday evening.
New recruit Marcus Smith will make his Lions debut at flyhalf. Robbie Henshaw returns from a hamstring injury to take place in the midfield alongside Elliot Daly.
Josh Adams also returns to the starting lineup following the birth of his daughter last night.
Saturday’s game is the final Tour match before the start of three Tests against the Springboks.
“It’s an important game as it’s the final chance for the coaching group to see the players perform prior to the start of the Test Series,” said Gatland.
“For the matchday 23 it’s their last opportunity to stake a claim for a Test place, so I expect to see a highly motivated group of players.
“It is particularly pleasing to be able to name Stuart Hogg in the squad. He’s not had much luck on Lions Tours to date, so it’ll be great to see him cross the whitewash again with the captain’s armband.
“I’m also delighted that Marcus will get his first start in a Lions jersey. I’ve been really impressed with his attitude since coming into camp this week; he’s been like a sponge for information.
“Obviously it’s a tight turnaround from Wednesday’s game but we’re in pretty good shape. The South Africa A game was a physical encounter – we always knew it would be – but we’ve come out of it pretty much intact and ready to go again. Liam Williams will begin his return to play protocol following his HIA.
“We learnt a lot from Wednesday’s game and I hope the defeat will serve us well. There’re still some areas of the game we need to tighten up on, particularly reducing our turnover rate.
“Time and again on this Tour we’ve had to adapt in the face of the challenges created by COVID-19. I couldn’t be prouder of the staff and the players for the role each of them has played to get us to this point on the Tour.”
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— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 15, 2021