O'Driscoll to captain Lions

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The Independent Online

Brian O'Driscoll will captain the British and Irish Lions in their second tour match against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Ireland's Grand Slam skipper is one of 12 changes made by head coach Ian McGeechan to the side following Saturday's 37-25 victory over the Royal XV.



O'Driscoll last captained the Lions on the ill-fated night in 2005 when he suffered a dislocated shoulder only a minute into the first Test against New Zealand.



Lions manager Gerald Davies said: "Everyone is also delighted that Brian O'Driscoll, the Irish Grand Slam skipper, will lead the team."



David Wallace remains in the back row but switches to openside while Jamie Roberts and winger Tommy Bowe have also been retained.



Full-back Rob Kearney, winger Ugo Monye, flanker Tom Croft and lock Nathan Hines will all make their Lions debuts at Ellis Park.



Number eight Jamie Heaslip, scrum-half Mike Phillips, lock Alun-Wyn Jones, prop Phil Vickery and hooker Lee Mears all start after coming off the bench in Rustenberg at the weekend.



McGeechan said: "The starting XV is very different to the one that played against the Royal XV on Saturday.



"There are only three players backing up from that match but six of the replacements have been promoted to Wednesday's starting XV for the Golden Lions match.



"This is in line with our intention that all players will play a full match in the first three matches on tour."

Wales fly-half Stephen Jones get his first chance to compete for a Test jersey, replacing Ronan O'Gara, who scored 22 points as the Lions staged a late rally to win at the weekend.

Gethin Jenkins also comes into the side while loose-forwards Stephen Ferris and Andy Powell, who were ruled out of Saturday's game with hand and calf injuries respectively, are on the bench.



McGeechan has also included fly-half James Hook and hooker Ross Ford, who both received late call-ups, among the replacements.



McGeechan added: "The team has a very solid core, with Brian O'Driscoll, Stephen Jones, David Wallace, Phil Vickery and Gethin Jenkins, who are all very experienced internationals and previous Lions tourists.



"David Wallace now has the opportunity to play at openside flanker following his selection at number eight against the Royal XV.



"Stephen Jones, who was a replacement in the last match but did not get a run, links up with his Welsh team-mate and scrum-half Mike Phillips, giving the team an experienced half-back combination."

Davies confirmed Wales winger Leigh Halfpenny will be flying out to join the tour after recovering from a thigh injury which had forced him to remain at home.

Halfpenny has been undergoing intensive treatment with the Cardiff Blues medics but they are now satisfied with his fitness levels.



Davies said: "We have had some encouraging and positive news regarding Leigh and he will come out as soon as possible."

British and Irish Lions team to play the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Wednesday:

R Kearney (Leinster and Ireland); T Bowe (Ospreys and Ireland), B O'Driscoll (Leinster and Ireland, captain), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues and Wales), U Monye (Harlequins and England); S Jones (Scarlets and Wales), M Phillips (Ospreys and Wales); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues and Wales), L Mears (Bath and England), P Vickery (Wasps and England), N Hines (Perpignan and Scotland), A-W Jones (Ospreys and Wales), T Croft (Leicester and England), D Wallace (Munster and Ireland), J Heaslip (Leinster and Ireland).



Replacements: R Ford (Edinburgh and Scotland), E Murray (Northampton and Scotland), S Ferris (Ulster and Ireland), A Powell (Cardiff Blues and Wales), H Ellis (Leicester and England), J Hook (Ospreys and Wales), S Williams (Ospreys and Wales).





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