Jamie Roberts's midfield parternship with Brian O'Driscoll has another opportunity to shine against the Sharks.
Seven Welshmen will take on the Sharks on Wednesday in a bid to secure places in the Lions Test team on Saturday week
Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips, Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones and Alun Wyn-Jones all start at the ABSA Stadium on Wednesday, while Leigh Halfpenny and Matthew Rees start on the bench. Blues and Wales flanker Martyn Williams was the only player unavailable for selection due to a shoulder injury. He is expected to be available for Saturday's clash with Western Province. Paul O'Connell retains the captaincy of the side.
Lions tour manager, WRU Board member Gerald Davies said, "We are now halfway through the provincial matches prior to the First Test and the important factor is that the Lions are unbeaten. The next challenge is the Sharks in Durban. The selected team will want to ensure that the one hundred percent playing record is maintained with a victory at ABSA Stadium which is also the venue of the First Test."
Commenting on the team selection Head Coach Ian McGeechan said, "I am delighted that as we head into the fourth match we only have one player who is unavailable for selection. The players and the medical staff have managed the injuries that have been sustained in a very professional manner. This is crucial as we enter matches against two of South Africa's strongest provinces in the Sharks and Western Province in the space of four days."
"This is reflected by the fact that four starting players from the Cheetahs match will back up against the Sharks, while five players are starting their third match of the tour. Those players are captain Paul O'Connell, Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, Jamie Roberts and David Wallace. Paul will start with his third different second row partner in Alun-Wyn Jones, while we also have new starting partnerships in the back three, the halfbacks and in the front row."
"The next two matches are obviously critical in the development of the Test side. While we have these new starting partnerships for the Sharks match we also have a centre pairing in Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll, and a backrow of Jamie Heaslip, David Wallace and Tom Croft that have played together on tour in the Golden Lions match," added McGeechan.
British and Irish Lions team v SharksWednesday 10 June, 6.10pm UK time:
Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales); Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland); Ronan O'Gara (Munster/Ireland), Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Lee Mears (Bath/England), Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Paul O'Connell (capt, Munster/Ireland), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England), David Wallace (Munster/Ireland), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland)
Replacements: Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales), Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England), Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England), Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England) Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland), Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England), Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.