Lions select Bundee Aki for third Test against Springboks

TEAM: Warren Gatland drops seven Lions players for third Test decider

British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has rung the changes for the third Test decider against the Springboks this Saturday.

After South Africa brought the series level with a 27-9 victory last weekend, Gatland has dropped Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Chris Harris, Rory Sutherland, Tadhg Beirne, Taulupe Faletau and Owenn Farrell from the squad completely.

In a shake-up to the selection, Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Bundee Aki, Ali Price, Wyn Jones and Ken Owens all start.

It is the first time since 1955 that a Lions tour of South Africa has gone to a decider, with Gatland releasing his squad one hour ahead of the Springbok camp.

Alun Wyn Jones stays in the starting line-up to captain the Lions in all three Tests. And with Adam Beard’s selection on the bench, Iain Henderson misses out on a Lions Test cap for the second successive tour.

Luke Cowan-Dickie and Mako Vunipola, starters in the second Test, are pulled from the front row and take a place among the replacements.

As does Conor Murray after the Lions were criticised for their kicking game in their defeat.

The bench becomes a big talking point with Beard followed by the ‘throw the kitchen sink’ selections of Sam Simmonds and Finn Russell.

“The matchday 23 have an incredibly special opportunity in front of them – to seal a Lions Series victory in South Africa,” said Gatland.

“It doesn’t get much bigger than this and we’re excited by the challenge that faces us on Saturday.

“We’ve no excuses from last week, the Springboks put us under pressure in the second half and deserved the win. We have to be much better than that second half performance, and I believe we will be.”

British & Irish Lions team for the third Test against South Africa

Lions: 15 Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales), 14 Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales), 13 Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland), 12 Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland), 11 Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland), 10 Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) 9 Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland); 1 Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales), 2 Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales), 3 Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland), 4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, England), 5 Alun Wyn Jones – captain (Ospreys, Wales), 6 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England), 7 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England), 8 Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland)

Replacements: 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England), 17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England), 18. *Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England)  – subject to outcome of disciplinary hearing, 19. Adam Beard (Ospreys, Wales), 20. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England), 21. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland), 22. Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland), 23. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England)

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