Alun Wyn Jones makes remarkable comeback from injury to captain bold Lions team against South Africa featuring Daly, Hogg and Cowan-Dickie
Alun Wyn Jones will captain a bold British and Irish Lions side to play South Africa after completing his sensational comeback from injury.
Less than four weeks ago, the Wales lock suffered a dislocated shoulder against Japan at Murrayfield and seemed set to miss the entire Tour.
However, in a huge boost to Warren Gatland and his coaching team, the veteran is not just available for selection – he will start against the World Cup holders in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Springboks have named a physical side for the First Test, yet Gatland seems content to out-run the opposition by naming a bold side which features plenty of form players rather than established names.
Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and number eight Jack Conan have beaten Jamie George and Toby Faletau to their respective positions, despite being less distinguished options.
George and Faletau were the incumbents from the 2017 tour to New Zealand but cannot even secure places on the bench.
Gatland’s contrarian streak is even more evident in the backline chosen to take on the Springboks in the first of three Tests to be staged in Cape Town.
He has opted for the enterprise of Stuart Hogg at full-back, even if his selection does come with risks attached, rather than the benched Liam Williams, also a 2017 Test Lion.
Elliot Daly is picked at outside centre – his preferred position where he has only started once for England – to forge a midfield partnership with Robbie Henshaw, who starts despite only making one appearance since straining a hamstring last month.
Duhan Van Der Merwe has tormented defences all tour and is given the green light on the left wing, but there is no place in the 23 for prolific try-scorer Josh Adams, who has crossed eight times in South Africa.
And in another nod to events in the build-up to the Test series, Ali Price has edged Conor Murray at scrum-half as reward for his greater energy and dynamism in attack.
Gatland has picked a team to play with tempo and ambition in a clear indication that the Lions game-plan is to out-run world champions, who have largely stuck to their tried and tested World Cup-winning XV.