Halfpenny handed Lions chance

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The Independent Online

Leigh Halfpenny will get a belated first taste of action for the British and Irish Lions in tomorrow's clash with the Cheetahs after finally being passed fit to join the squad in South Africa.

The Wales winger, who linked up with the squad on Tuesday after recovering from a thigh injury, will start on the wing in another new-look Lions selection.



None of the starting XV from Wednesday's record 74-10 victory over the Golden Lions will feature in Bloemfontein tomorrow.



Luke Fitzgerald gets his first chance after recovering from a slight knee injury and will line up at inside centre, with Keith Earls making his second tour appearance at outside centre.



James Hook starts at fly-half with Harry Ellis at scrum-half, while number eight Andy Powell, flanker Stephen Ferris, hooker Ross Ford and prop Euan Murray also make their first Lions starts.



Riki Flutey and Martyn Williams were the only two players unavailable for selection with knee and shoulder injuries respectively.



Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy is named on the bench barely 24 hours after he arrived in South Africa.

British and Irish Lions team to play Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday:

L Byrne (Ospreys and Wales); L Halfpenny (Cardiff and Wales), K Earls (Munster and Ireland), L Fitzgerald (Leinster and Ireland), S Williams (Ospreys and Wales); J Hook (Ospreys and Wales), H Ellis (Leicester and England); A Sheridan (Sale and England), R Ford (Edinburgh and Scotland), E Murray (Northampton and Scotland), D O'Callaghan (Munster and Ireland), P O'Connell (Munster and Ireland, captain), S Ferris (Ulster and Ireland), J Worsley (Wasps and England), A Powell (Cardiff Blues and Wales).



Replacements: M Rees (Scarlets and Wales), A Jones (Ospreys and Wales), S Shaw (Wasps and England), N Hines (Perpignan and Scotland), M Blair (Edinburgh and Scotland), R O'Gara (Munster and Ireland), G D'Arcy (Leinster and Ireland).



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