Anthony Watson has earned a place in The British & Irish Lions’ starting XV for the first Test against World Champions South Africa on Saturday.
It will be the Bath Rugby and England international’s 10th outing in the famous red jersey and his fourth Test start after featuring in all three matches against New Zealand in 2017.
Watson, who lines up on the wing, has already showcased his talents in the Lions’ warm-up games, scoring two tries against The Sharks in a roaring 71-31 victory.
“In my four Tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the hardest Test selection I have been involved in,” said head coach Warren Gatland.
“We couldn’t have asked for more from the players so far; they’ve all put their hands up and made picking a starting XV incredibly difficult. In truth, we would have been happy with any number of different combinations across the 23, however, we’re very pleased with the side we’ve settled on.
“We know what we’re coming up against on Saturday. It’s going to be an arm wrestle, there’s no doubt about it. We’ll need to front up physically and be ready to go from the first whistle. When we played SA ‘A’ last week we probably took a bit too long to get into the game, something we can’t afford to do that again this weekend.
“We need to make sure we play in the right areas of the field, not give them easy territory and take our chances when they come.
“While the stands will be empty in Cape Town Stadium, we know Lions fans from across the home nations will be cheering us on back home. We’ll do our best to get the win.”
The much-anticipated clash against the Springboks is the first of three Tests matches in the Castle Lager Lions Series to be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports.
THE BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS TEAM TO FACE SOUTH AFRICA
15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783, 14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816, 13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822, 12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #824, 11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841, 10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821, 9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #843; 1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) #842, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851, 3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818, 4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825, 5. Alun Wyn Jones – captain (Ospreys, Wales) #761, 6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826, 7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853, 8. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839
16. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829, 17. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840, 18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814, 19. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838, 20. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) #847, 21. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790, 22. Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) #780, 23. Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) #833