Gatland makes three changes for Second Test against Springboks


arren Gatland has made three changes to his British and Irish Lions team for the Second Test against South Africa this Saturday, recalling the experienced duo Conor Murray and Mako Vunipola, and beefing up his midfield with Scotland centre Chris Harris.

The Lions put in a fine second-half performance to fight back from 12-3 down to win the First Test on Saturday. Now, they face what Gatland calls “the biggest game on the tour” in Cape Town.

Gatland has resisted wholesale changes, opting instead to tweak a winning side.

Vunipola came onto the bench for the series opener when Wales prop Wyn Jones was withdrawn late last week due to a shoulder injury.

With Jones still unavailable and Vunipola putting in a fine showing off the bench, he is promoted to start ahead of Scotland’s Rory Sutherland. Vunipola began his third tour by being informed by Gatland that he was in the right physical condition for Test rugby, but held his own at scrum time on Saturday.

Murray, who was tour captain when Alun Wyn Jones was prematurely ruled out of the tour by a shoulder injury sustained against Japan (only to complete a remarkable recovery to play the first Test), is back at scrum-half. He replaces Ali Price, who drops to the bench having put in a sparky performance in the opener.

The selection of Harris ahead of Elliot Daly is a little surprise, after the Englishman endured a tough game in the First Test. Daly does, however, keep his place on a bench containing three backs, with Liam Williams dropping out of the 23 despite being available.

Picking Murray and Harris in particular provides an indication of the more direct style the Lions are likely to employ this week, after it served them well in the second half of the First Test.

Dan Biggar has been selected at fly-half once more, with Owen Farrell on the bench, but the Welshman will need to prove he is fit to play after suffering concussion on Saturday. He is only able to train fully from Thursday this week.

Gatland has kept faith with many of his borderline selections for the First Test. He has stuck with Scotland’s Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg in the back three, meaning there is no place again for Williams or Josh Adams, while Jack Conan starts at No8 and Luke Cowan-Dickie at hooker.

Taulupe Faletau returns to the 23 to win his fifth Lions cap, off the bench. There is still no place for Jamie George, another player who excelled on the 2017 tour of New Zealand.

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