George to lead Lions in second match against Sharks

·2-min read
South African born wing Duhan van der Merwe, who scored a hat-trick of tries in the first game against the Sharks, is one of only two starters retained for the rematch on Saturday

England hooker Jamie George was on Friday named as the fourth captain of the British and Irish Lions in as many matches for the game against the Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday.

Tour captain Conor Murray was named among the substitutes. He has yet to start a game since it was announced that he would take over as captain from Alan Wyn-Jones, who was injured in a match against Japan before the Lions left Britain.

The announcement of the team was delayed pending a new set of Covid-19 test results, which according to a statement from the Lions, were all negative.

One member of staff who tested positive on Wednesday is being isolated at the team hotel together with one player and three other staff members who were close contacts. The individuals were not named.

The Lions team shows 13 changes from the team that played the same opposition on Wednesday, with only centre Elliot Daly and wing Duhan van der Merwe retained for the game at Loftus Versfeld.

But four players who were originally named to play in the first match against the Sharks are in the team: fullback Liam Williams, wing Anthony Watson, fly-half Dan Biggar and scrumhalf Gareth Davies.

The quartet were withdrawn from Wednesday's match following what proved to be a false positive Covid test by an unnamed player.

The Sharks agreed to play a second match against the Lions after the originally-planned fixture against the Bulls was called off after several cases of Covid in the Bulls camp were discovered.

The Sharks earlier announced 11 changes from the side beaten 54-7 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

George follows Wyn-Jones, Stuart Hogg and Iain Henderson in leading the Lions in their four matches, including the pre-tour match against Japan.

In a statement announcing the team, coach Warren Gatland said, "It's obviously been a slightly turbulent week but we remain determined to keep rolling with the punches.

"In many ways, the challenges we've faced this week have strengthened our resolve to do everything we can to overcome the challenges created by Covid."

Lions team (15-1):

Liam Williams; Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Chris Harris, Duhan van der Merwe; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Jack Conan, Hamish Watson, Tadgh Beirne; Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje; Tadhg Furlong, Jamie George (captain), Rory Sutherland.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Wyn Jones, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, Sam Simmonds, Tom Curry, Conor Murray, Finn Russell.


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