Venue: Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
Date: Saturday 1st June 2013 19.30 local (12.30 UK)
UK Television: Sky Sports 1 & HD 1 (12.00 UK)
Weather: Clear Skies, Max 27 degrees
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Angus Gardner (Australia)
Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Assessor: Scott Young/Andrew Cole (Australia)
|The Barbarians||The British & Irish Lions|
|15: Jared Payne
14: Joe Rokocoko
13: Elliot Daly
12: Casey Laulala
11: Takudzwa Ngwenya
10: Nick Evans
9: Dimitri Yachvili
1: Paul James
2: Schalk Brits
3: Martin Castrogiovanni
4: Marco Wentzel
5: Dean Mumm
6: Samu Manoa
7: Sam Jones
8: Sergio Parisse (c)
|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 Hibbert
1: Mako Vunipola
|16: Leonardo Ghiraldini
17: Duncan Jones
18: Andrea Lo Cicero
19: Jim Hamilton
20: Imanol Harinordoquy
21: Kahn Fotuali’i
22: James Hook
23: Mike Tindall/Rowan Varty
|16: Tom Youngs
17: Cian Healy
18: Matt Stevens
19: Alun Wyn Jones
20: Jamie Heaslip
21: Conor Murray
22: Jonathan Sexton
23: George North
So after four long years, here we are again. The knockers would have you believe that the British & Irish Lions are a dying breed and that the tour gets in the way of the regular season calender. A relic from the amateur days and one that should be forgotten with it.
Try telling that to the rest of us. You ask the players about what the Lions means to them. You ask the opposition players what playing against the Lions means to them. You ask the 40,000 odd supporters who will travel half way round the world over the course of the next few weeks to go and watch their Lions means to them.
You only need look at this opening tour game in Hong Kong for further indication of the pull that the Lions have as a sporting unit. From a commercial point of view, it’s obvious that this game is being put on because of the influence of the Lions main sponsor HSBC. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in case you need the
clarification. It’s clear that HSBC wanted to bring the most famous touring side in the world to a city that really, have real rugby pedigree outside of their sevens tournament held each year, although that is more famous for the party than the rugby on the field of play. Nevertheless, the Lions are a huge draw for Hong Kong and it’s no surprise that HSBC leaned very heavily on the Lions to make this fixture happen, such is their worldwide appeal.
It has also been alleged by the newspapers that HSBC may have had a hand in why Hong Kong winger Rowan Varty was added to the squad as last minute injury cover for Mike Tindall. Perhaps their influence isn’t just over the Lions, but also their opposition team sheet too?
The game itself is going to be a scrappy affair to say the least. The weather on Saturday is set to be roasting hot with humidity levels reaching unsustainable levels of around 85%. Match officials have allowed a drinks break to occur mid way through both halves, but that will do little to quell the drain on the players from both sides, and the Lions will be particularly aware that this is just the first game in a series of ten, with the next match coming quickly on Wednesday in Perth.
The Lions will be using the game as an early indicator of combinations, but no-one seriously expects that game to be much of a spectacle given that both sides are completely unused to playing with each other.We expect that conditions and unfamiliarity will win out here, but it will be interesting to look at some of the basic individual performances and seeing how they fit into the system will be key.
Looking at some specifics, the obvious candidate to keep an eye on will be Mako Vunipola. With Adam Jones on the other side of the scrum, he will need to at least be steady in the scrum and offer something around the park as his lack of international experience could be highlighted quite early.
Owen Farrell will also have a spotlight on him. He’ll be playing inside the settled welsh centre partnership and will have the experienced former Lion Mike Phillips feeding him the ball so he’ll need to have an assured game to convince the doubters of his ability to run the game at this level.It will be interesting to see who really puts their hand up here. It’s going to be a tough game physically so to come out of this with any credit the Lions are going to have to show promise and early combinations outside of the existing partnerships in the back row and midfield.
Comments from British & Irish Lions fans on the Forum
“There are certainly some interesting predictions for this match. The Lions’ XV looks strong but the Bar Bars have also bolstered their squad by adding Parisse and Rokocoko. Should be a fantastic spectacle. Cannot wait!!”
Join in the chat at our Lions Tour Forum to have your say, and next time it could be your comments here.
It’s early days, but we would expect the settled welsh combinations to come up with the goods in what will be a draining fixture for both sides. The Lions to win by four tries to two.
The Barbarians 14 British & Irish Lions 31