CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Alun Wyn Jones was named on the bench for the British and Irish Lions’ last warmup game in South Africa against the Stormers, giving him a chance to prove his fitness for the first test after a rapid recovery from a dislocated left shoulder.
Picked to captain the Lions, Jones was initially ruled out of the tour completely when he was injured on June 26 in a warmup game against Japan in Scotland. He returned to training with the Wales squad this week and was cleared to play again less than three weeks after the dislocation.
He and Ireland hooker Ronan Kelleher were scheduled to arrive in Cape Town on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s game against the Stormers at Cape Town Stadium.
England flyhalf Marcus Smith was named to start at No. 10 and will make his Lions debut having also flown in to join the tour late, as injury backup for Finn Russell.
The Lions have problems at No. 10 with Russell out with an Achilles injury and Dan Biggar recovering from an ankle sprain. That meant there was no specialist flyhalf on the bench for the Stormers game.
Owen Farrell started at No. 10 in the 17-13 loss to a South Africa A team featuring a host of Springboks on Wednesday night.
Stuart Hogg has also returned to the Lions team at fullback having been left in Johannesburg to self-isolate because of COVID-19 protocols. He will captain the team for the second time on the tour.
The starting 15 against the Stormers has Josh Adams and Duhan van der Merwe on the wings and Robbie Henshaw and Elliot Daly in the centers. Ali Price is at scrumhalf while Hamish Watson returns at openside flanker.
It’s the Lions’ last tour game before the three-test series against the Springboks starts in Cape Town in nine days.
“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,” Lions coach Warren Gatland said.
Gatland said the Lions “learnt a lot” from the loss to South Africa A.
British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg (captain), Josh Adams, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Marcus Smith, Ali Price; Jack Conan, Hamish Watson, Tadhg Beirne, Jonny Hill, Adam Beard, Tadhg Furlong, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Rory Sutherland. Reserves: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Zander Fagerson, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Simmonds, Gareth Davies, Chris Harris, Louis Rees-Zammit.
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