Hogg to captain Lions in South Africa tour openeron July 1, 2021 at 9:00 am

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Scotland’s Stuart Hogg captains a new-look British and Irish Lions XV in their tour opener against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Stuart Hogg
Date: Saturday 3 July Kick-off: 17:00 BST Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Lock Jonny Hill, flanker Hamish Watson, centre Chris Harris and wing Louis Rees-Zammit make their debuts among 14 changes from the win over Japan.

Josh Adams retains his place on the wing, while Finn Russell and Owen Farrell form an exciting 10-12 pair.

“It’s good to get the tour under way,” said Lions boss Warren Gatland.

“There are some new player combinations for us to have a look at this Saturday – which is good information for us as the Test series approaches.

“My congratulations to all those playing their first game as a Lion, and also to Hoggy too – who I am sure will lead the side by example.”

‘If I see it’s on I have confidence in my skills’

Finn Russell

Russell made his one previous Lions appearance as a replacement for Dan Biggar in a 31-31 draw against the Hurricanes four years ago in New Zealand.

The fly-half says the instinctive running style that has been his hallmark for Scotland and Racing 92 will still be part of his game in Lions red.

“The maverick thing has been said since I came through. At Scotland or Glasgow it was an open game, so that’s where the tag came from I suppose,” he said.

“It’s kind of just stuck. It doesn’t bother me either way.

“If I see it’s on I have confidence in my skills, so I will always have a crack. You’ve got to make a decision in a split second of what’s best to do.

“If the space is there I’m not afraid to have a go and try something, whether it’s a miss pass or whatever.

“Again, that’ll come depending on how we’re going to play the game in South Africa. You get a feel for the risk-reward options and how we’re going to play the game.”

Russell will have international half-back partner Ali Price at scrum-half to help him bed in.

Lions team to face Emirates Lions: Hogg; Rees-Zammit, Harris, Farrell, Adams; Russell, Price; W Jones, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Hill, Lawes, H Watson, Faletau.

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Vunipola, Fagerson, Henderson, Simmonds, Davies, Aki, Daly

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