June International Tours

McGeechan sticks to his Lions selection promises



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British and Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeechan has kept his promise and by the end of the Lions match against the Cheetahs on Saturday all of the Lions will have started on tour except for one.

Recent recruit Gordon D’Arcy who only joined the touring Lions this week will be the only Lion who has not started but that is sure to change in the Lions next match which is against the Sharks next wednesday.

In selecting a side that does not include any players that ran on against the Golden Lions on Wednesday, McGeechan has also given the team’s youngest member Leigh Halfpenny a run-on just three days after joining the squad in South Africa.

Halfpenny remained behind in Cardiff to undergo rehabilitation for a quad muscle.

Irish centre D’Arcy, who flew out as a replacement and only joined up with the team in Johannesburg on Thursday, is on the bench.

For the Cheetahs match Andy Powell, Stephen Ferris, Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Harry Ellis and James Hook are all in the starting XV for the first time.

Hook, in particular, will be interesting to watch in a run-on side. He is regarded as a running flyhalf and offers other options that Stephen Jones and Ronan O’Gara.

The team to face the Cheetahs have strongman Andrew Sheridan at loosehead and Scotland’s Euan Murray on the tighthead side with Scotland hooker Ross Ford between them.

It is a huge front row – and the Free State side will do well to contain what is yet another new combination. An all-Welsh back three, an Irish combination in midfield and two Munster locks are other features.

“We are also continuing to build partnerships and combinations from players from the four nations,” said McGeechan, referring to the front row in particular and the back row where three different players from three different nations, Andy Powell, Joe Worsley and Stephen Ferris will be playing alongside each other.

“We know we have a pretty tough match on our hands,” said McGeechan, pointing out that the Cheetahs had a very good finish in the Super 14 and took the Bulls to the wire.

He said it could be one of the toughest teams they face on tour.

British and Irish Lions:

Lee Byrne, Leigh Halfpenny, Keith earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Shane Williams, James Hook, Harry Ellis, Andy Powell, Joe Worsley, Stephen Ferris, Paul O’Connell, Donncha O’Callaghan, Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Andre Sheridan

Replacements: Matthew Rees, Adam Jones, Simon Shaw, Nathan Hines, Mike Blair, Ronan O’Gara, Gordon D’Arcy.


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