Tom Curry in Lions line-up for Sharks clash

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Tom Curry will make his first appearance of the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa after being picked at openside flanker for Wednesday’s clash with the Sharks.

The explosive England forward is the only member of the original squad selected by Warren Gatland not to have played after he came into camp with a pectoral injury sustained on club duty for Sale.

Now restored to full fitness, he makes his Lions debut in a back row that also includes compatriot Sam Simmonds, who played 25 minutes of Saturday’s 56-14 victory over the Sigma Lions.

Sam Simmonds will make his first start for the Lions after being picked at number eight
Sam Simmonds will make his first start for the Lions after being picked at number eight (Steve Haag/PA)

Simmonds won the last of his seven England caps in 2018 but has been unable to convince Eddie Jones of his game-breaking ability at number eight since, despite winning European and Premiership player of the year awards.

Josh Navidi completes the back row and is joined in the pack by lock Adam Beard, his fellow late call-up in the wake of the tour-ending injuries sustained by Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric.

Ireland’s Iain Henderson leads the team from the second row and becomes the third player to captain the side after Jones and Stuart Hogg took charge against Japan and the Sigma Lions.

Conor Murray, Jones’ permanent replacement as tour skipper, is on the bench as scrum-half cover for Gareth Davies, who is making his first start of the tour at Emirates Airline Park.

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Gatland has stuck to his policy of ensuring all squad members will start at least one of the first three games with wing Anthony Watson, centre Elliot Daly, props Mako Vunipola and Zander Fagerson and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie also in action.

“It’s a quick turnaround from Saturday, but we’ll be ready to go by Wednesday night,” Lions head coach Gatland said.

“I’m pleased we managed to come through the weekend’s game unscathed, and the boys have rested and recovered well.

Warren Gatland expects the Sharks to be a step up in class after the Sigma Lions were crushed on Saturday
Warren Gatland expects the Sharks to be a step up in class after the Sigma Lions were crushed on Saturday (Steve Haag/PA)

“We feel like we’re slowly building, but, as ever, there’s still room for improvement in all facets of our game.

“Wednesday night is another chance for us to have a look at a few more combinations. I’m looking forward to seeing how the back row goes – it’s an exciting mixture and one that we hope will offer something a bit different.

“We expect another physical test against a side who are known for their power play and ambition. My congratulations to Tom, Josh and Adam ahead of their first starts in a Lions jersey.”

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