Paul O’Connell will lead the British and Irish Lions in their rugby tour opener against the Barbarians in Hong Kong after squad skipper Sam Warburton was left out to recover from a knee injury.
Ireland lock O’Connell, who captained the combined team on its 2009 tour of South Africa, was one of six former Lions included in a 23-man roster for the June 1 game at Hong Kong Stadium. The others are Adam Jones, Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts, Alun Wyn Jones and Jamie Heaslip.
“I’m really excited by the first selection of the tour,” Lions coach Warren Gatland said in an e-mailed statement announcing the team. “Everyone in the camp is raring to go.”
Wales flanker Warburton was rested after receiving a blow on the knee during training, the team said on its website.
The Lions, a selection of players from the U.K. and Ireland who tour every four years, are stopping off in Hong Kong for their first match in Asia on their way to Australia, where they’ll play nine matches including a three-Test series against the Wallabies.
Lions team to play Barbarians: 15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland) 14. Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues/Wales) 13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets/Wales) 12. Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales) 11. Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland) 10. Owen Farrell (Saracens/England) 9. Mike Phillips (Bayonne/Wales) 8. Toby Faletau (Dragons/Wales) 7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys/Wales) 6. Dan Lydiate (Dragons/Wales) 5. Paul O’Connell (Munster/Ireland, captain) 4. Richie Gray (Scotland) 3. Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales) 2. Richard Hibbard (Ospreys/Wales) 1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens/England)
Replacements: 16. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England) 17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Ireland) 18. Matt Stevens (Saracens/England) 19. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys/wales) 20. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland) 21. Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland) 22. Johnny Sexton (Leinster/Ireland) 23. George North (Scarlets/Wales)
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