British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg to captain Lions in South Africa opener

British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg to captain Lions in South Africa opener

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Stuart Hogg
Hogg joined up with the Lions after Exeter’s Premiership final defeat by Harlequins on Saturday
Date: Saturday 3 July Kick-off: 17:00 BST Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

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.

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.”

The Lions, who lost four out of five matches in the recent Rainbow Cup, will name their team for the match at 16:00 BST on Thursday.

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

Finn Russell
Russell has Dan Biggar and, potentially, Owen Farrell as rivals for a starting Test fly-half role

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.

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