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Wallace and Monye start for Lions

First Test: SOUTH AFRICA v LIONS
Venue: King's Park, Durban
Date: Saturday, 20 June Kick-off: 1400 BST (1500 local time)
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and online. Also live on Sky Sports. Rugby Union on the BBC


David Wallace and Ugo Monye
Wallace and Monye are two of 10 men making their first Lions Test starts

David Wallace and Ugo Monye have been named in the British and Irish Lions team for Saturday's opening Test against world champions South Africa.

The biggest question mark surrounded the number seven jersey, where Martyn Williams and Wallace were vying to start the match at open-side flanker.

Monye will start on the left wing ahead of Luke Fitzgerald and Shane Williams, with Tommy Bowe on the right.

Alun Wyn Jones partners captain Paul O'Connell in the second row.

The starting XV consists of six players from Wales, five from Ireland and four from England, with no Scotland players in the squad of 22.

Welshmen Mike Phillips and Stephen Jones form the half-back pairing, with Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll at inside and outside centre respectively and Lee Byrne at full-back.

O'Connell praises Lions character

Tom Croft, Jamie Heaslip and Wallace make up the back row, with Gethin Jenkins, Lee Mears and Phil Vickery comprising the front three.

Leicester flanker Croft missed out on selection for the initial squad but received a call-up after Munster flanker Alan Quinlan was ruled out of the tour through suspension and he has taken his chance with a series of impressive displays.

There were two notable omissions from the match 22 with no place on the bench for winger Shane Williams, the 2008 world player of the year, or England prop Andrew Sheridan.

Byrne, Bowe, Monye, Roberts, Phillips, Mears, Alun Wyn Jones, Croft, Wallace and Heaslip will all be playing in their first Lions Test.

O'Driscoll and Vickery started all three Tests in Australia in 2001, while O'Driscoll's involvement in New Zealand in 2005 ended within a minute of the first Test through injury.

They are the only members of the side to have experienced a Lions Test victory, in Brisbane in 2001, the last time the Lions won a Test.

There were some very difficult calls to make as the players as a group and individually have done everything that we have asked of them and performed on the field

Lions head coach Ian McGeechan

Skipper O'Connell and Jenkins started all three Tests in New Zealand, while fly-half Stephen Jones started two and came on as a replacement in the other.

"The Test team has been picked on form following the six provincial matches," said Lions head coach Ian McGeechan.

"There were some very difficult calls to make as the players as a group and individually have done everything that we have asked of them and performed on the field.

"It has been 20 years since a Lions team has won all of its provincial matches leading up to the Test series so it is very satisfying to be in such a position.

"The entire squad and the management have worked hard to create an outstanding team environment. Everyone has done this very professionally and it is fair to say that I would not change anything that we have done so far.

"There's no doubt South Africa are probably the best team in the world at the moment, they're very talented, have a settled coaching team and play quite a varied game, from strength and power to subtlety and speed - we're under no illusions how good they are."

O'Connell was keen to praise those players who have not been selected for the starting XV.

"The way the guys have reacted is great, a tour hinges on moments like this and Test selections," he said. "It's not only how the Test players react to to selection but how the others react to not being picked.

Rugby Union blog
Bryn Palmer's blog

"This is the big start of the tour, the atmosphere in the squad is what's going to be carry us through the next three weeks - it's been good so far.

"I'd imagine it'll be an emotional changing room (on Saturday), something we've spoken about is how special is it.

"At the start of the tour we'd have said we're proud of our club and proud of our country, but this is the greatest jersey we can pull on.

"We've got great pace in the backline and a very fit front five. There's no doubt we'll need things to got our way, as any tour does, but if we put together a good 80 minutes, no doubt we can win.

The Lions have won all six of their matches on tour so far and will be hoping to repeat the first-Test success they enjoyed on their way to a series win over the Springboks 12 years ago.

Tries from Matt Dawson and Alan Tait helped the unfancied tourists to a 25-16 win before Jeremy Guscott's drop-goal sealed the series in Durban the following week.

Wallace 'ecstatic' about Lions spot

The Lions return to the venue on Saturday for the only one of their three encounters with the Springboks to be staged at sea-level, before travelling to Pretoria and Johannesburg for the 27 June and 4 July Tests.

South Africa's only competitive preparation for the series was a 36-7 win over a Namibian Invitation XV on 27 May.

But stars such as Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez and Bryan Habana were absent from the Springboks side as they were preparing for the Bulls' 61-17 Super 14 final win over the Chiefs the following weekend.


British and Irish Lions team to play South Africa in the first Test in Durban on Saturday:
L Byrne (Wales and Ospreys); T Bowe (Ireland and Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Ireland and Leinster), J Roberts (Wales and Cardiff Blues), U Monye (England and Harlequins); S Jones (Wales and Scarlets), M Phillips (Wales and Ospreys); G Jenkins (Wales and Cardiff Blues), L Mears (England and Bath), P Vickery (England and Wasps), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales and Ospreys), P O'Connell (Ireland and Munster, capt), T Croft (England and Leicester), D Wallace (Ireland and Munster), J Heaslip (Ireland and Leinster).

Replacements: M Rees (Wales and Scarlets), A Jones (Wales and Ospreys), D O'Callaghan (Ireland and Munster), M Williams (Wales and Cardiff Blues), H Ellis(England and Leicester), R O'Gara (Ireland and Munster), R Kearney (Ireland and Leinster).



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see also
Jones relishing Boks' lock test
19 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Hayes called up into Lions squad
18 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Injury ends Murray's Lions tour
18 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Hook gives Lions a fitness boost
18 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Howley warning to Lions' Phillips
18 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Guscott's drop for glory
18 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Wing Williams eager for Test call
15 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Martyn Williams column
15 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Brussow handed Springboks start
16 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Springboks fail to impress in win
27 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions squad selector
07 May 09 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union


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