By Rossa McDermott
British & Irish Lions Tour Manager, Gerald Davies, and Head Coach Ian McGeechan, today announced the Lions team for the fourth match of the 2009 tour of South Africa. The selected team will play the Sharks in Durban on Wednesday and will be led by Captain Paul O'Connell.
Davies said, "We are now halfway through the provincial matches prior to the First Test and the important factor is that the Lions are unbeaten. The next challenge is the Sharks in Durban. The selected team will want to ensure that the one hundred percent playing record is maintained with a victory at ABSA Stadium which is also the venue of the First Test. "
Commenting on the team selection Head Coach Ian McGeechan said, "I am delighted that as we head into the fourth match we only have one player who is unavailable for selection. The players and the medical staff have managed the injuries that have been sustained in a very professional manner. This is crucial as we enter matches against two of South Africa's strongest provinces in the Sharks and Western Province in the space of four days."
"This is reflected by the fact that four starting players from the Cheetahs match will back up against the Sharks, while five players are starting their third match of the tour. Those players are captain Paul O'Connell, Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, Jamie Roberts and David Wallace. Paul will start with his third different second row partner in Alun-Wyn Jones, while we also have new starting partnerships in the back three, the halfbacks and in the front row."
"The next two matches are obviously critical in the development of the Test side. While we have these new starting partnerships for the Sharks match we also have a centre pairing in Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll, and a backrow of Jamie Heaslip, David Wallace and Tom Croft that have played together on tour in the Golden Lions match," added McGeechan.
Sharks v British & Irish Lions on 10th June 2009 will kick off 19:10 [Local] at the ABSA Stadium
15. Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales)
14. Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales)
13. Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland)
12. Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
11. Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland)
10. Ronan O'Gara (Munster/Ireland)
9. Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland)
7. David Wallace (Munster/Ireland)
6. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England)
5. Paul O'Connell (Munster/Ireland) captain
4. Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales)
3. Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales)
2. Lee Mears (Bath/England)
1. Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
16. Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales)
17. Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England)
18. Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England)
19. Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England)
20. Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland)
21. Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England)
22. Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues/Wales)