Watson back on the wing for British & Irish Lions

9 July 2021

Anthony Watson is named on the wing for The British & Irish Lions’ match against Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday (17:00 BST kick-off).

The Bath Rugby man was set to face the same opposition in midweek but was ruled out of the match late in the day alongside several other players because of a squad member testing positive for Covid-19.

Watson featured in the Lions’ opening match against Japan but is yet to feature in South Africa. 

Lions number #816, he is on his second British & Irish Lions tour and earned three Test caps in 2017, starting all three games against the All Blacks. 

Taking the 14 jersey, Watson is in a back three containing fellow tourist from four years ago, Liam Williams, and Scotland wing Duhan van der Merwe who scored a hat-trick last time out.

Jamie George is named captain of a starting XV which has 13 changes to the team that played The Sharks earlier this week, with only Elliot Daly and van der Merwe retained. 

The game against the Durban-based Sharks replaces the scheduled Tour match against the Bulls and is the third in an eight-game Series culminating in the three Tests against World Champions, the Springboks. 

This is the second time the Lions will have played the Sharks in the Castle Lager Lions Series, having already beaten them 7-54 on Wednesday night at Emirates Airline Park.  

Earlier today (Friday 9 July), the Tour PCR screening programme returned a negative set of results.  

On Wednesday 7 July, one member of staff tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the individual and four close contacts (one player and three members of staff) are being isolated at the team hotel.


“It’s obviously been a slightly turbulent week, but we remain determined to keep rolling with the punches,” said head coach Warren Gatland. 

“In many ways, the challenges we’ve faced this week have strengthened our resolve to do everything we can to overcome the challenges created by covid.  

“The feeling in the camp on Wednesday night was just to give it a crack – I was really proud by how everyone reacted, particularly the match day squad who would have never prepared for a game like that before.    

“Saturday is another opportunity to see how the boys go and for us as coaches to try out a few more combinations ahead of the Test series. 

“I have long been an admirer of Jamie’s leadership skills, so I am delighted to name him skipper. 

“We want to pass on thanks to the Sharks boys for fronting up and going again on Saturday. That’s the spirit of rugby, and a great chance for them to have another shot at us.”

THE BRITISH & IRISH LIONS team to play Cell C Sharks

15. Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) #833, 14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816, 13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822, 12. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) #844, 11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841, 10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821, 9. Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) #850; 1. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840, 2. Jamie George – captain (Saracens, England) #819, 3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818, 4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825, 5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England) #845, 6. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838, 7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) #847, 8. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839


16. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829, 17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) #842, 18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814, 19. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826, 20. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) #849, 21. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853, 22. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790, 23. Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland) #835


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