Stuart Hogg will lead the British and Irish Lions in their first match in South Africa.

|

Stuart Hogg says he will “be his own man” when he leads a new-look British and Irish Lions XV against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.

“I think being captain doesn’t change anything you do,” said Scotland’s Hogg.

“I’ve never been the one to scream and shout and boss people around. I like to lead by the way that I perform.”

Lock Jonny Hill, flanker Hamish Watson, centre Chris Harris and wing Louis Rees-Zammit make their debuts, with 14 changes made from the win over Japan.

Josh Adams retains his place on the wing, while Finn Russell and Owen Farrell form an exciting 10-12 pair.Short presentational grey line

Lions team to face Emirates Lions: Hogg; Rees-Zammit, Harris, Farrell, Adams; Russell, Price; W Jones, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Hill, Lawes, H Watson, Faletau.

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Vunipola, Fagerson, Henderson, Simmonds, Davies, Aki, DalyShort presentational grey line

“They have worked really well together,” said Lions boss Warren Gatland of Russell and Farrell.

“Owen has had a huge amount of experience on his third Lions tour and as captain of England so he is adding a lot to the environment.

“Finn has a slightly different way of playing but he has matured amazingly in the last few years in terms of his game management

“I thought the way he managed Scotland’s Six Nations win against France, with his kicking and his control, was outstanding.

“It is pretty exciting to have a look at that back combination.”

Gatland added that he intends to give Farrell, who has mostly played at centre for England recently and shifted into a midfield role for the second and third Tests in New Zealand four years ago, a chance to stake his claim at 10 at some point in the tour.

The hosts, who lost four out of five matches in the recent Rainbow Cup, have named 20-year-old prospect Jordan Hendrikse at fly-half.

Prop Jaco Visagie, who spent some of the 2018-19 season on loan at Gloucester, is on the bench.

“There is such a small group of guys who will have the chance to play against players of this calibre in their lifetime, and I hope that they truly take a moment to take it in and savour the enormity of the moment,” said head coach Ivan van Rooyan.

‘If I see it’s on I have confidence in my skills’

Finn Russell
Russell has Dan Biggar and, potentially, Owen Farrell as rivals for a starting Test fly-half role

Russell made his one previous Lions appearance as a replacement for Dan Biggar in a 31-31 draw against the Hurricanes four years ago in New Zealand.

The fly-half says the instinctive running style that has been his hallmark for Scotland and Racing 92 will still be part of his game in Lions red.

“The ‘maverick’ thing has been said since I came through. At Scotland or Glasgow, it was an open game, so that’s where the tag came from I suppose,” he said.

“It’s kind of just stuck. It doesn’t bother me either way.

“If I see it’s on, I have confidence in my skills, so I will always have a crack. You’ve got to make a decision in a split second of what’s best to do.

“If the space is there I’m not afraid to have a go and try something.

“Again, that’ll come depending on how we’re going to play the game in South Africa. You get a feel for the risk-reward options and how we’re going to play the game.”

Russell will have international half-back partner Ali Price at scrum-half to help him bed in.




Leave a reply