O’Connell Named As Lions Captain Against Barbarians

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Paul O’Connell will captain the British and Irish Lions this weekend when they face the Barbarians on Saturday.

O’Connell takes charge of the team because of injury to Lions captain Sam Warburton which ruled him out of the game.  The 2009 tour captain is also the only Irishman named in the tour opener this weekend with nine Welshmen being named in the starting 15.

The Irish have four on the replacements bench in Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Conor Murray and Jonny Sexton.

The squad will come of no surprise with those being named to face the Barbarians in Hong Kong being the players who have been in the training camp the longest.  Leinster, Ulster and Leicester players only joined up with the squad on Sunday following commitments at club level.

Lions coach Warren Gatland also said: “”I am really excited by the first selection of the tour. Naturally it comprises largely those players not involved in last weekend’s Aviva Premiership and RaboDirect PRO12 finals and we have a lot of players making their debuts for the Lions.”

He also said that the bench would be used in the game on Saturday due to the tropical heat and the humidity in Hong Kong. “With the heat and the weather, most of the guys will come off the bench”, Gatland said.

Following the match on Saturday the Lions then head to Australia for the game against Western Force on Wednesday.  The first test against Australia is on Saturday June 22 with plenty of rugby to be enjoyed before then.

British and Irish Lions (v Barbarians, Hong Kong, Saturday, 12:30pm Irish Time): S Hogg (Scotland); A Cuthbert (Wales)  J Davies (Wales), J Roberts (Wales), S Maitland (Scotland), O Farrell (England), M Phillips (Wales); M Vunipola (England), R Hibbard (Wales), A Jones (Wales); R Gray (Scotland), P O’Connell (Ireland, capt); D Lydiate (Wales), J Tipuric (Wales), T Faletau (Wales).

Replacements: T Youngs (England), C Healy (Ireland), M Stevens (England), Al Wyn-Jones (Wales), J Heaslip (Ireland), C Murray (Ireland), J Sexton (Ireland), G North (Wales).

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