Hawick’s Rory Sutherland named in British and Irish Lions’ starting line-up for next game
Borderer Rory Sutherland has been named in the starting line-up for the British and Irish Lions’ next game in South Africa, against Cell C Sharks tomorrow, July 10.
That will be the ex-Hawick and Gala star’s first start of the tour, though he did come on as a 51st-minute replacement for Mako Vunipola during the Lions’ 54-7 win against the Sharks on Wednesday, July 7.
It will be the third time the 28-year-old, now with Worcester Warriors, has played for the Lions as he also featured in their warm-up game against Japan in Edinburgh on Saturday, June 26
Fellow ex-Hawick player Stuart Hogg captain for the Lions’ first game in South Africa, a 56-14 victory against Sigma Lions on Saturday, July 3, was also originally lined up to be on the bench for that game but was later pulled out of the matchday squad as part of a reshuffle prompted by a coronavirus outbreak in the touring side’s camp.
Positive Covid-19 test results are also responsible for the Lions playing the Durban-based Sharks twice in four days as they meant they couldn’t face original opponents Vodacom Bulls.
Tomorrow’s game at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, kicks off at 5pm.
“The choice of the Cell C Sharks was dictated by the fact that they have been in a bubble, have returned negative tests throughout and were prepared to take on the fixture,” said Jurie Roux, chief executive officer of SA Rugby.
“No other team in the country could meet those conditions right now without going into a five-day lockdown.
“It is not an ideal situation, but Covid-19 has made sure that we do not live in an ideal world.”
Head coach Warren Gatland has named Jamie George as captain of a starting XV featuring 13 changes from the team that played in midweek, with only Elliot Daly and Duhan van der Merwe keeping their places this weekend.
“It’s obviously been a slightly turbulent week, but we remain determined to keep rolling with the punches,” said Gatland.
“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.
“The feeling in the camp on Wednesday night was just to give it a crack.
“I was really proud of how everyone reacted, particularly the matchday squad who would have never prepared for a game like that before.
“Saturday is another opportunity to see how the boys go and for us as coaches to try out a few more combinations ahead of the test series.
“I have long been an admirer of Jamie’s leadership skills, so I am delighted to name him skipper.
“We want to pass on thanks to the Sharks boys for fronting up and going again on Saturday. That’s the spirit of rugby and a great chance for them to have another shot at us.”