Ronan O’Gara has selected England flanker Tom Curry at number eight in his British and Irish Lions starting test 15.
Former Ireland and Lions fly-half O’Gara is the latest Sky Sports pundit to select a starting 15 for the first test against the Springboks, which is now just over a week away.
The Irishman has made a number of big calls in his team, as he has left Josh Adams, Dan Biggar and Robbie Henshaw out of the starting 15.
They say water covers 71% of the 🌍 ’s surface, we’re pretty sure @TomCurry98 covers the rest 🙌
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 15, 2021
‘Alun Wyn Jones is the epicentre of the team.’
O’Gara explained that match fitness was a major criteria for selecting his Lions team, although he has made an exception for Alun Wyn Jones, who has made a remarkable comeback from a shoulder dislocation.
“I think, as you can see, the one clear criteria for me changing from player to coaching is people have to be fit,” O’Gara said.
“So I didn’t include Robbie Henshaw because I think it would be smart, maybe, if he has a hamstring issue, to get him right for tests two and three.
“The exception is Alun Wyn Jones. I think he’s the leader, he’s the epicentre of this team, and he goes straight in to the engine room and you’re hoping that he defies logic to do what he does best and consistently does.”
The La Rochelle head coach’s Lions front five is the same one that started in the second and third test against the All Blacks in 2017, but he has gone with an intriguing combination in the back row.
England flanker Curry has been shifted to eight, in order to make room for Tadhg Beirne and Hamish Watson at six and seven, all of whom have played very well on tour so far.
Check out Ronan O’Gara’s British and Irish Lions test XV below.
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
14. Anthony Watson (England)
13. Elliot Daly (England)
12. Bundee Aki (Ireland)
11. Liam Williams (Wales)
10. Owen Farrell (England)
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)
8. Tom Curry (England)
7. Hamish Watson (Scotland)
6. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, Lions captain)
4. Maro Itoje (England)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
2. Jamie George (England)
1. Mako Vunipola (England)