British and Irish Lions 2013: Shane Williams and Christian Wade are sticking plaster for Gatland

Coach patches up his Lions with six new faces as the tour gets serious

Canberra

The Lions begin the second and, by an infinite distance, the more important half of their tour in the cold and damp of Canberra tomorrow with a side containing six players not included in the original 37-man party. One of them will be the new England wing Christian Wade, who did not expect to pull on the red shirt until 2017 at the earliest. Another will be the old Wales wing Shane Williams, who did not expect to do so ever again.

"Shane is playing in Japan, which means he can get here quickly," said the head coach, Warren Gatland, by way of explaining his decision to summon a 36-year-old Welshman who, however celebrated he may be, has not played a high-level game for more than a year. Gatland added that this unprecedented move was a sticking-plaster job, pure and simple. Williams will play against the ACT Brumbies on a "for one night only" ticket before leaving camp on Wednesday.

With Wade and two other red-rose reinforcements, the centres Brad Barritt and Billy Twelvetrees, also starting in the back line, the shape of the Lions side for what is certain to be a difficult game against the most resourceful of the Australian Super 15 outfits comes as something of a shock. There is also an odd look to the front row, where the Scottish prop Ryan Grant and the Irish hooker Rory Best will join forces under the latter's leadership. Neither forward made the initial cut in April.

Williams, who put two tries past the Springboks in Johannesburg when the Lions last played a Test match four years ago, was summoned late on Saturday night local time when it became clear that the casualty rate among the current backs was threatening to wreck plans for the series with the Wallabies, which begins in Brisbane this weekend. The two leading wings in the party, Tommy Bowe and George North, have been under treatment for some days and are likely to miss the long-awaited date with the men in green and gold. Manu Tuilagi, a left-field option as a wide man, is also struggling for fitness, while Sean Maitland of Scotland is suffering the malign effects of playing consecutive tour games.

Stuart Hogg could have returned on the wing tomorrow, but he is needed at outside-half. Similarly, Rob Kearney is required at full-back. So how about Simon Zebo, the Irishman drafted in last week as cover for Bowe? He might conceivably be needed for bigger, better things, and must make do with a seat on the bench. Which leaves Alex Cuthbert and his fellow Welshman, the supercharged goal-kicker Leigh Halfpenny. Anyone suggesting to Gatland that either man be risked ahead of the forthcoming business with the Wallabies would have received a very quizzical stare in response.

"One of the reasons we went for Shane is that he's still playing professional rugby – he's also been doing some boxing, although I hope those skills won't be needed against the Brumbies – and the fact that he's based in Japan makes it a lot easier from the geographical point of view," Gatland said. "This is going to be tough on a few players, but the people we've brought in from the England set-up know each other and Shane has Lions experience that will enable him to understand what we're trying to do.

"There's no way we're just sacrificing this game: the Brumbies have been laying up in camp waiting for us and they'll be difficult opponents, but the players in this Lions team have the chance to continue our unbeaten record and to put themselves in the spotlight at the same time, so the motivation will be there. They will feel a massive responsibility, because a Lions tour is about one player handing on the baton to the next.

"However, we've also had to peer through the looking glass at the Test. It's hard to ask people to play Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday, so we're trying to be proactive. We're pretty short in the back three positions and if we'd included someone for Canberra who then got hurt, you'd be asking why he wasn't rested. We see Shane as an answer for this game. If it turns out I've made the wrong call, you can have a crack at me. I won't mind."

The back-three issue is not the only one facing the coaches: there is not a fat lot of choice at centre, either. It may be that Twelvetrees, recently described by Nigel Davies, his boss at Gloucester, as "almost a blueprint for what you want at No 12 in the modern game", will play a significant hand for the Lions as events unfold over the next 19 days.

Gatland was deeply impressed by the midfielder when he attended an England squad session during this year's Six Nations and flew him here from Argentina when both Bowe and Tuilagi were hurt during the victory over Queensland Reds. Now that Jamie Roberts has fallen too – the Welsh centre was being scanned yesterday after breaking down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury in the closing stages of the weekend win against the Waratahs – his presence is valuable indeed.

"I'm here to contribute, otherwise there's no point," Twelvetrees said on being named in the starting line-up against a Brumbies side featuring the high-class full-back Jesse Mogg and the one-time Wallaby wing sensation Clyde Rathbone. "I haven't done anything yet, so my full focus is on this match. I want to play my own game and execute it 100 per cent."

Likely Lions: Gatland's first test choices

Centres

Another "Hobson's choice" situation. Brian O'Driscoll and Jonathan Davies, who have yet to start together on tour, are the men at the front of an ever-dwindling queue.

Half-backs

Jonny Sexton, owner of the squad's most creative mind, and Mike Phillips, the back-rower's dream of a scrum-half, were always likely to link up. Ben Youngs has mounted a challenge to Phillips, but as he starts tomorrow against the Brumbies, he looks destined for the bench in Saturday's Test.

Front row

Adam Jones has long been the favourite at tight head while Mako Vunipola's explosive performances on the other side have put him in the pound seats. There is still a debate at hooker, but Tom Youngs has made a strong case against the bigger, bulkier Richard Hibbard.

Second row

Why would anyone in his right mind break up the locking partnership of Alun Wyn Jones and Paul O'Connell, who performed with such ruthlessness against the Waratahs? Jones played at Test pitch for the first time on this tour while O'Connell is driven by the energy of the last hurrah. Formidable.

Back row

Nothing could be simpler after the Waratahs game. Tom Croft, Sam Warburton and Jamie Heaslip surely did enough, even though it will hurt Gatland to overlook Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn