Rugby-Hogg to captain Lions in opening tour match

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British and Irish Lions Training
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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg was named to captain the British and Irish Lions in the opening match of their South African tour, when they take on the Gauteng Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Welsh winger Josh Adams is the only player retained in the starting line-up from the side that beat Japan 28-10 in Edinburgh last weekend in a warm-up game before their departure for Johannesburg.

Louis Rees-Zammit, Chris Harris and Jonny Hill will all be debuting for the Lions from the start and it is likely that Luke Cowan-Dickie, Zander Fagerson, Sam Simmonds and Gareth Davies will get a first taste of Lions action off the replacement’s bench.

The side includes four players from the Exeter Chiefs team that lost last Saturday’s Premiership final at Twickenham and who had not been part of the Lions’ training camp in Jersey.

"It's good to have arrived in Johannesburg and get the Tour underway," said Lions coach Warren Gatland in a statement announcing the team on Thursday.

"We had a pleasing win last week up in Edinburgh, but there’s still plenty we need to get right on Saturday.

"I’ve been encouraged by the way the boys have trained this week. I feel it’s gone up a level from where we were in Jersey and we’re starting to see a better understanding of some of our tactics.

"There’s some new player combinations for us to have a look at this Saturday – which is good information for us as the test series approaches," he added.

Team:

15-Stuart Hogg (capt), 14-Louis Rees-Zammit, 13- Chris Harris, 12-Owen Farrell, 11-Josh Adams, 10-Finn Russell, 9-Ali Price, 8-Taulupe Faletau, 7- Hamish Watson, 6- Courtney Lawes, 5-Jonny Hill, 4-Maro Itoje, 3-Kyle Sinckler, 2-Jamie George, 1-Wyn Jones

Replacements: 16-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17-Mako Vunipola, 18-Zander Fagerson, 19 Iain Henderson, 20-Sam Simmonds, 21-Gareth Davies, 22-Bundee Aki, 23-Elliot Daly.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Catherine Evans and Jon Boyle)

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