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Paul O’Connell to Captain Lions in Opener

Munster lock Paul O’Connell has been named as captain for the British & Irish Lions in the opening tour match against the Barbarians on Saturday.

Lock O’Connell is well experienced with the role having captained the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa and it was a “very eaay decision” according to Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland.

“Paul has been great over the last few weeks, and it was probably a blessing that Munster got knocked out [in the semi-finals] of the Heineken Cup. He has done a great job supporting Sam and is the best person for the job in terms of his leadership and the respect he has within the squad.”

Tour Captain Sam Warburton was ruled out of the match as a precautionary measure following a steroid injection to treat a minor knee ligament injury.

Gatland said “The medics have asked him to stay off it for five days and we felt it was not worth the risk. The last thing we wanted was for him to get through the first three or four weeks and then be struggling when the Tests come around. It is just precautionary.”

The side named to face the Barbarian features seven former tourists with O’Connell and the welsh trio of Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips and Adam Jones all starting, and Matt Stevens, Alun Wyn Jones and Jamie Heaslip on the bench.

All three Scots on the trip, Richie Gray, Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg, are starting the match.

The British & Irish Lions Team to face the Barbarians on Saturday:

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: Tom Youngs
17: Cian Healy
18: Matt Stevens
19: Alun Wyn Jones
20: Jamie Heaslip
21: Conor Murray
22: Jonathan Sexton
23: George North 

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