- Corbisiero, Youngs and Croft start in Lions pack vs Australia
- Five England players make bench for first Test in Brisbane
Photo: Getty Images
England trio Alex Corbisiero, Tom Youngs and Tom Croft will start for the British & Irish Lions in the first Test against Australia in Brisbane this Saturday.
Head Coach Warren Gatland has opted to chosen loose head Corbisiero, who only joined the squad from England’s tour of Argentina after Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins were injured, ahead of compatriot Mako Vunipola, who is one of five England replacements.
Northampton Saints-bound Corbisiero has got the nod for his solidity at the set-piece, while Vunipola’s rambunctious style in the loose, which has lit up the tour so far, is expected to play a part in the second half.
Leicester Tigers pair Youngs and Croft complete the English flavour to the pack, with their inclusion each capping a remarkable story. Hooker Youngs was playing on loan for Nottingham in the RFU Championship as recently as 2009 while blind side flanker Croft was out for nine months earlier ths season with a potentially career-ending neck injury.
Tight head Adam Jones also starts in the front row, with fellow Welshman Alun-Wyn Jones and Ireland’s Paul O’Connell in the second row as Graham Rowntree’s pack look to impose their physicality on the Wallabies.
Captain Sam Warburton leads the side from open side, with Jamie Heaslip at No.8, meaning there in no place in the match day 23 for Sean O'Brien, Justin Tipuric or Toby Faletau.
Photo: Getty Images
Jamie Roberts, Manu Tuilagi and Tommy Bowe all miss out through injury, so Alex Cuthbert and Jonathan Davies get their chances alongside Leigh Halfpenny, Brian O'Driscoll, the fit-again George North, Jonny Sexton and Mike Phillips in the back division.
In addition to Vunipola, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell take spots on the replacements bench, alongside Richard Hibbard, Dan Lydiate and Sean Maitland.
Gatland said: "After six matches we have arrived at the first Test and have selected our strongest possible side with only Jamie Roberts, Tommy Bowe and Manu Tuilagi unavailable for selection.
"The Wallabies at home pose a huge challenge but the Test team contains 20 of the players that played against the Waratahs in what was our best match to date. We now have a couple of more days of match preparation to ensure we improve again on that performance."
British and Irish Lions
15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 George North, 10 Jonny Sexton, 9 Mike Phillips, 1 Alex Corbisiero, 2 Tom Youngs, 3 Adam Jones, 4 Alun-Wyn Jones, 5 Paul O'Connell, 6 Tom Croft, 7 Sam Warburton, 8 Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Sean Maitland