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Page last updated at 11:32 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 12:32 UK

O'Driscoll to lead new-look Lions

Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Date: Wednesday, 3 June Kick-off: 1810 BST (1910 local time)
Coverage: Live text commentary and score updates on BBC Sport website; second-half commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live


Brian O'Driscoll
O'Driscoll led the Lions against New Zealand in 2005

Brian O'Driscoll will captain a much-changed British & Irish Lions side for Wednesday's match against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg.

Only Tommy Bowe, Jamie Roberts and David Wallace retain their places from the side which unconvincingly beat a Royal XV in Saturday's tour opener.

Rob Kearney, Ugo Monye, Tom Croft and Nathan Hines will make their debuts.

Jamie Heaslip, Mike Phillips, Alun-Wyn Jones, Phil Vickery and Lee Mears are all promoted from the bench.

Coach Ian McGeechan said: "The starting XV is very different to the one that played on Saturday.

"There are only three players backing up from that match but six of the replacements have been promoted to Wednesday's starting XV.

"This is in line with our intention that all players will play a full match in the first three matches on tour.

"The team has a very solid core with Brian O'Driscoll, Stephen Jones, David Wallace, Phil Vickery and Gethin Jenkins who are all very experienced internationals and previous Lions tourists.

"David Wallace now has the opportunity to play at open-side flanker following his selection at number eight against the Royal XV.

"Stephen Jones, who was a replacement in the last match, but did not get a run, links up with his Welsh team-mate and scrum-half Mike Phillips giving the team an experienced half-back combination."

The Lions were widely criticised after their 37-25 win on Saturday, as they made a number of errors and found it difficult to gel as a team.

But McGeechan insisted they have already learned from their mistakes.

"The team has trained well. We have worked on several key areas following the first match which has given us a base from which to keep developing our game," he added.

O'Driscoll last captained the Lions on the ill-fated night in 2005 when he suffered a dislocated shoulder only a minute into the first Test against New Zealand.

Lions manager Gerald Davies said: "Everyone is also delighted that Brian O'Driscoll, the Irish Grand Slam skipper, will lead the team."

Davies also confirmed Wales winger Leigh Halfpenny will be flying out to join the tour after recovering from a thigh injury which had forced him to remain at home.

Halfpenny has been undergoing intensive treatment with the Cardiff Blues medics but they are now satisfied with his fitness levels.

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"We have had some encouraging and positive news regarding Leigh and he will come out as soon as possible," Davies added.

Springboks Jannes Labuschagne and Heinke van der Merwe have both been ruled out of the Golden Lions side.

Lock Labuschagne and prop van der Merwe are injured but coach Hans Coetzee though, can still call on South African international fly-half Andre Pretorius and his fellow Springbok, prop Lawrence Sephaka, as key components of the team.

The replacements' bench, meanwhile, includes two forwards bound for Guinness Premiership club Saracens next season - hooker Ethienne Reynecke and flanker Ernst Joubert.


British and Irish Lions team to play the Golden Lions:

R Kearney (Leinster and Ireland); T Bowe (Ospreys and Ireland), B O'Driscoll (Leinster and Ireland, captain), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues and Wales), U Monye (Harlequins and England); S Jones (Scarlets and Wales), M Phillips (Ospreys and Wales); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues and Wales), L Mears (Bath and England), P Vickery (Wasps and England), N Hines (Perpignan and Scotland), A-W Jones (Ospreys and Wales), T Croft (Leicester and England), D Wallace (Munster and Ireland), J Heaslip (Leinster and Ireland).
Replacements: R Ford (Edinburgh and Scotland), E Murray (Northampton and Scotland), S Ferris (Ulster and Ireland), A Powell (Cardiff Blues and Wales), H Ellis (Leicester and England), J Hook (Ospreys and Wales), S Williams (Ospreys and Wales).

Golden Lions side:

L Ludik; M Killian, J Boshoff, D la Grange, D Noble; A Pretorius, J Vermaak; L Sephaka, W Wepener, G Muller, B Mockford, W Stoltz, C Grobbelaar, F van der Merwe, W Alberts.
Replacements: E Reynecke, J Van Rensburg, E Joubert, T Clever, C Jonck, W Venter, E Rose.



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see also
Jeremy Guscott column
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Lions in South Africa photos
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Halfpenny joins Lions squad in SA
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Lions suffer Earls injury setback
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Bulls maul Chiefs to win Super 14
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Jeremy Guscott column
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Royal XV 25-37 Lions
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Royal XV v Lions as it happened
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Lions squad selector
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2009 Lions: Squad & results
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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Rugby union positions guide
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