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Wales's Williams out of first Lions Test

By Luke Phillips 19/06/2009 12:50:52 PM Comments (0)

The world player of the year, Welsh winger Shane Williams, has been left out of the British and Irish Lions team for Saturday's vital first test against South Africa.

The out-of-form Williams is replaced by England wing Ugo Monye.

In the other big team news, Wales lock Alun-Wyn Jones has been included for the first of the three-Test series.

The Lions have won all six of their warm-up matches, albeit against sides missing their cosseted Springbok players.

The gritty determination they have shown could well make them real challengers to the world champions, in what are expected to be three physical games.

"It has been 20 years since a Lions team has won all of its provincial matches leading up to the Test series so it is very satisfying to be in such a position," said head coach Ian McGeechan.

The Lions, comprising the cream of the England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, arrived in South Africa as underdogs in their bid to win the first series in 12 years against the world champions.

Lions tour manager Gerald Davies added that playing South Africa on home soil was one of the ultimate challenges.

"South Africa also happen to be world champions, which adds an extra edge to the series, just as it did in 1997 (when the Lions won 2-1)," the former Wales winger said.

"The tradition between the Lions and the Springboks is legendary and after the six lead-up provincial matches the rugby world is waiting with great anticipation for the first Test."

Jones lines up alongside captain Paul O'Connell in the second row in full knowledge that they will have to be at the top of their game against the trusted duo of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.

Flanker Martyn Williams just missed the starting Lions XV to the more physical David Wallace, but is named on a strong bench.

Wallace, Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip will have their hands full at the breakdown, where they have consistently struggled to impose themselves, notably when Heinrich Brussow was playing for the Cheetahs in a warm-up game edged 26-24 by the visitors.

Brussow has been drafted in for the Springboks in place of the injured Schalk Burger and complements a powerful back row of Juan Smit and Pierre Spies.

British and Irish Lions team to play South Africa in the first Test in Durban on Saturday:

L Byrne (Wales and Ospreys); T Bowe (Ireland and Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Ireland and Leinster), J Roberts (Wales and Cardiff Blues), U Monye (England and Harlequins); S Jones (Wales and Scarlets), M Phillips (Wales and Ospreys); G Jenkins (Wales and Cardiff Blues), L Mears (England and Bath), P Vickery (England and Wasps), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales and Ospreys), P O'Connell (Ireland and Munster, capt), T Croft (England and Leicester), D Wallace (Ireland and Munster), J Heaslip (Ireland and Leinster).

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