Vickery to captain Lions for next warm-up

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The Independent Online

Phil Vickery will captain the British and Irish Lions in tomorrow's clash against Western Province at Newlands.

The Wasps prop and former England skipper takes leadership duties for the unbeaten tourists' fifth game in South Africa.



And Vickery will look to press his claims for the first Test match clash with world champions South Africa in Durban a week tomorrow.



He is joined by several other strong Test-team candidates, including wings Tommy Bowe and Ugo Monye, fly-half Stephen Jones and loosehead prop Andrew Sheridan.



England centre Riki Flutey, meanwhile, makes his first start of the tour, while flanker Martyn Williams also features after recovering from a shoulder injury.



The Lions have posted 176 points in their four matches to date, and head coach Ian McGeechan has the luxury of not needing any players to back up in the starting XV from Wednesday night's 39-3 victory over the Sharks.

McGeechan said: "The squad is very close as a group of players, but there is now a competitive edge developing as we approach the Test series.



"That is how it should be.



"I reminded the players when I told them the team to play Western Province that we were not selecting the Test side until next Tuesday following the Southern Kings match."



As for Vickery's appointment to lead the team tomorrow, McGeechan added: "It is just reward for a thoroughly professional player who will play in his 10th Lions match.



"No starting players are backing up from the Sharks match as we continue our desire to see all players involved in at least two full matches prior to Test selection."



Lions manager Gerald Davies said: "As a tour party, we are delighted that we have reached Cape Town and the final Saturday provincial match prior to the Test series with an unbeaten record.



"Team morale is high, and each team that takes the field is determined to maintain the momentum and to fight for an individual Test place."



For Flutey, especially, tomorrow's encounter is a game that could easily have passed him by.



He suffered a knee injury during the opening tour fixture against a Royal XV in Rustenburg almost two weeks ago, but a combination of his iron-willed discipline and expert Lions medical care means he is now back to full fitness.



Wales star Williams, meanwhile, is in a battle with Ireland's David Wallace for the Test number seven shirt, and knows he must deliver a top-class display this weekend.

British and Irish Lions team to play Western Province in Cape Town tomorrow.

R Kearney (Leinster and Ireland); T Bowe (Ospreys and Ireland), K Earls (Munster and Ireland), R Flutey (Wasps and England), U Monye (Harlequins and England); S Jones (Scarlets and Wales), H Ellis (Leicester and England); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks and England), M Rees (Scarlets and Wales), P Vickery (Wasps and England, capt), D O'Callaghan (Munster and Ireland), N Hines (Perpignan and Scotland), J Worsley (Wasps and England), M Williams (Cardiff Blues and Wales), A Powell (Cardiff Blues and Wales).



Replacements: R Ford (Edinburgh and Scotland), E Murray (Northampton and Scotland), S Shaw (Wasps and England), T Croft (Leicester and England), M Blair (Edinburgh and Scotland), J Hook (Ospreys and Wales), G D'Arcy (Leinster and Ireland).



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