Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


O'Connell to lead Lions

30th May 2013 06:17


British and Irish Lions 2013 Paul OConnell

Paul O'Connell: Stands in for Sam Warburton as captain

Ireland lock Paul O'Connell will captain the British an Irish Lions in Saturday's tour opener against the Barbarians in Hong Kong.

O'Connell, who led the Lions in their last game in South Africa in 2009, will lead a side that contains all three Scottish tourists, eleven Welshman, five Irishmen and four Englishmen.

Lions coach Warren Gatland has rested tour captain Sam Warburton following a knock to his knee received in training and O'Connell is one of six former Lions in the squad.

He joins Adam Jones, Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts, Alun Wyn Jones and Jamie Heaslip, all of who played in the opening game four years ago.

"I'm really excited by the first selection of the tour," said Gatland. "Naturally it comprises largely those players not involved in last weekend's Aviva Premiership and PRO12 finals and we've a lot of players making their debuts for the Lions.

"At the same time we have a hard core of experience with the six former Lions sharing 430 caps between them and 19 Lions Tests. There are also some proven combinations such as the Welsh centre pairing and back row.

"Some of the boys who played last weekend are on the bench as cover and generally everyone in the camp is raring to go."

The game at the Hong Kong Stadium will be the first the Lions have played in Asia and the second against the Barbarians.

The two teams last met at Twickenham in 1977, a game which was won by a Lions side containing current tour manager Andy Irvine and Barbarians team manager Derek Quinnell.

"After all the pre-tour preparation in Cardiff and Dublin the match against the Barbarians on Saturday marks another milestone in the proud history of the Lions and the start of the 2013 tour," said Irvine.

"This is the important first match of a 10-match tour and the players are eager to get the tour off on the right note. Training has gone very well and it is exciting to see 11 players making their run-on debuts for the Lions, including the tour's youngest player Stuart Hogg."

British and Irish Lions: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Richie Gray, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Jamie Heaslip, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 George North.

Date: Saturday June 1
Venue: Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
Kick-off: 19.30 (11.30 GMT)
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Angus Gardner (Australia)
Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia)