CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - British & Irish Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones will start from the bench against the Stormers at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday after a remarkable return to the tour party following a dislocated shoulder.
Jones had been ruled out of the tour after being injured in the 28-10 victory over Japan in Edinburgh last month, but has proved his fitness and arrived in South Africa on Thursday.
There is also a return from COVID-19 isolation for fullback Stuart Hogg, who captains the side, while rookie flyhalf Marcus Smith has been handed a first start just days after he also arrived in South Africa as cover for Finn Russell.
Centre Robbie Henshaw has overcome a hamstring problem and will play his first game on the tour, while Josh Adams returns after dropping out of the 17-13 defeat by South Africa ‘A’ on Wednesday to view the birth of his first child via Zoom.
"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," coach Warren Gatland said in a media release.
"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."
Utility back Liam Williams was not considered as he must undergo concussion protocols in the next week after taking a knock against South Africa ‘A’.
"We learnt a lot from Wednesday’s game and I hope the defeat will serve us well. There are still some areas of the game we need to tighten up on, particularly reducing our turnover rate,” Gatland said.
"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."
Team: 15-Stuart Hogg (captain), 14-Josh Adams, 13-Elliot Daly, 12-Robbie Henshaw, 11-Duhan van der Merwe, 10-Marcus Smith, 9-Ali Price, 8-Jack Conan, 7-Hamish Watson, 6-Tadhg Beirne, 5-Jonny Hill, 4-Adam Beard, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 2-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1-Rory Sutherland
Replacements: 16-Jamie George, 17-Mako Vunipola, 18-Zander Fagerson, 19-Alun Wyn Jones, 20-Sam Simmonds, 21-Gareth Davies, 22-Chris Harris, 23-Louis Rees-Zammit
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)