English Prop Alex Corbisiero has been named to face the Wallabies in the first British & Irish Lions test of the series.
Corbisiero was not even named in the original touring party, but was called up after injuries to Gethin Jenkins and Cian Healy.
The pick see’s expected test starter Mako Vunipola take a place on the bench despite being widely tipped to start.
Corbisiero was picked for his superior scrummaging skills with Lions head coach fearing the Mako Vunipola would be targeted in the scrum by the Wallabies. He said “No doubt Robbie Deans has looked at Mako technically at scrum time. Mako coming off the bench will give us a huge amount of impetus and we think that will be a big strength.”
“Technically, we think Alex is probably a little bit sounder and with the referee at scrum time, we think we have potentially got a little bit of an edge. Alex is also perhaps a bit more of a combination with Tom Youngs and Adam Jones. There’s no doubt Mako is very unlucky but he will make a big impact off the bench.”
Corbisiero’s inclusion is perhaps the only surprise in the side named by Warren Gatland. He has picked a virtually identical team to the one he played on Saturday against the NSW Waratahs with the addition of long serving Lions Brian O’Driscoll included, and injury doubt George North.
O’Driscoll, playing on his fourth Lions tour, will be playing in the same city he made his Lions test debut in on the 2001 tour.
George North had been a doubt ahead of this match after suffering from a hamstring strain, but he is also named in the starting line up.
The British & Irish Lions team to face NSW Waratahs:
15: Leigh Halfpenny
14: Alex Cuthbert
13: Jonathan Davies
12: Brian O’Driscoll
11: George North
10: Jonathan Sexton
9: Mike Phillips
8: Jamie Heaslip
7: Sam Warburton (c)
6: Tom Croft
5: Paul O’Connell
4: Alun Wyn Jones
3: Adam Jones
2: Tom Youngs
1: Alex Corbisiero