- Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola get first chance to push for Test berths against Barbarians
- Matt Stevens and Tom Youngs named among replacements
Photo: Getty Images
Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola have both been named in the British and Irish Lions team to play the Barbarians in Hong Kong on Saturday.
The Saracens duo are given the earliest possible opportunity to lay down a marker for a Test berth on the Lions’ tour of Australia, starting at fly half and loose-head prop respectively.
Their clubmate, 44-Test tight head Matt Stevens, also makes Warren Gatland’s first match-day 23 as a replacement, while Leicester Tigers hooker Tom Youngs is the only other England international to feature.
He takes a place on the bench following his involvement in the Aviva Premiership final last weekend and is likely to come on for Richard Hibbard at some stage during the game.
In the absence of official captain Sam Warburton – suffering from a slight knee problem – Ireland lock Paul O’Connell skippers the XV, which contains eight of the 2013 Six Nations-winning Wales side, as well as Dan Lydiate at blind-side flanker.
Among those Welshmen are Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies, who will provide extremely sturdy running options for Farrell as a tried-and-tested Test centre partnership.
Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland have a chance as part of a pacey back three, with Richie Gray completing Scotland’s representation in the second row.
Shortly after the team announcement, O’Connell – one of just six men in the 23-man squad to have previously played for the Lions – said: “We are a very tight group already. There is a big buzz about making this tour very special.
“I suppose there are a few of us who have been on a few [tours] already and have not been successful. That is not the greatest feeling ever.
“We want to become a team as quickly as possible and be a success for the Lions.”
British and Irish Lions team to face the Barbarians in Hong Kong on Saturday, June 1 (kick-off 12:30pm BST)
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
14. Alex Cuthbert (Wales)
13. Jonathan Davies (Wales)
12. Jamie Roberts (Wales)
11. Sean Maitland (Scotland)
10. Owen Farrell (England)
9. Mike Phillips (Wales)
1. Mako Vunipola (England)
2. Richard Hibbard (Wales)
3. Adam Jones (Wales)
4. Richie Gray (Scotland)
5. Paul O’Connell (Ireland, captain)
6. Dan Lydiate (Wales)
7. Justin Tipuric (Wales)
8. Toby Faletau (Wales)
16. Tom Youngs (England)
17. Cian Healy (Ireland)
18. Matt Stevens (England)
19. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
20. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
21. Conor Murray (Ireland)
22. Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)
23. George North (Wales)