British and Irish Lions rugby captain Sam Warburton will make his debut in two days against the Queensland Reds, the second of five games in Australia before the touring team faces the Wallabies in a Test series.
Wales flanker Warburton sat out the Lions’ opening two wins on their tour to Hong Kong and Australia because of a knee injury. Ireland’s Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll led the team against the Barbarians and Western Force, respectively, in his absence.
Lock Geoff Parling, prop Matt Stevens, hooker Tom Youngs and his brother and scrum-half Ben Youngs were also chosen to make their first Lions starts against the Reds, who earlier included 12 Wallabies in their team for the match that will played be at the same Brisbane stadium as the first Test on June 22.
“Two games and two victories is great, but those two matches are building blocks as we head toward the Test series,” Lions coach Warren Gatland said in a statement. “We always said we would give every player a start in the first three matches and this team reflects that. It also provides us with the opportunity to continue to look at different combinations.”
Reds fly-half Quade Cooper and back-rower Jake Schatz will be among those seeking to impress Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, who will add a final six players to his squad for the Lions series next week.
The Lions beat the Barbarians 59-8 last weekend in Hong Kong before routing the Force 69-17 yesterday in Perth.
LIONS TEAM TO FACE QUEENSLAND REDS ON JUNE 8: 15 - Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland) 14 - Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues/Wales) 13 - Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers/England) 12 - Jonathan Davies (Scarlets/Wales) 11 - Tommy Bowe (Ulster/Ireland) 10 - Owen Farrell (Saracens/England) 9 - Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England) 1 - Gethin Jenkins (Toulon/Wales) 2 - Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England) 3 - Matt Stevens (Saracens/England) 4 - Richie Gray (Scotland) 5 - Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers/England) 6 - Dan Lydiate (Dragons/Wales) 7 - Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues/Wales-Captain) 8 - Toby Faletau (Dragons/Wales) Replacements 16 - Richard Hibbard (Ospreys/Wales) 17 - Mako Vunipola (Saracens/England) 18 - Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales) 19 - Paul O’Connell (Munster/Ireland) 20 - Justin Tipuric (Ospreys/Wales) 21 - Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland) 22 - Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/Ireland) 23 - George North (Scarlets/Wales)