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Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 17:33 UK

Lions keep Test team under wraps

Ian McGeechan
McGeechan toured with the Lions as a player in 1974 and 1977

British and Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeechan says he is unlikely to field his Test line-up ahead of the opening match against South Africa on 20 June.

The Lions play the fourth of their six warm-up games when they face the Sharks in Durban on Wednesday.

"The main thing was to get everyone playing in those first three games," McGeechan said. "Now, in the next three games it is to look at combinations.

"It is unlikely they will play as a XV before the Test match."

The Lions are unbeaten in their first three matches and likely Test starters and combinations are beginning to emerge.

But in stark contrast to 2005 Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward, who split his party into a midweek side and the Test squad early on, McGeechan is adamant everyone will get a fair chance.

He is, though, aware of the risks of not giving the first Test team a match together before they meet the Springboks.

"It's got to be about us and what we want to try and be come first Test day," the coach explained.


"There are some risks, but I think what we get out of it as a squad far outweighs that.

"The only other way of doing it is you separate the teams and you say to half the squad 'You are not going to be involved in a Test match,' and I am not prepared to do that."

Flanker Martyn Williams is currently the only member of the squad unavailable for selection because of injury, and McGeechan is delighted with the preparations for the three-Test series thus far.

"If someone had said we would get to game four with three wins and everyone playing, I would probably have bitten their hand off," he said.

"I want all the players to give me a selection headache. The fewer easy choices I have to make, the better."

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