Welsh Lions Leigh Halfpenny, James Hook and Andy Powell will make their first starts in a Lions jersey when the tourists take on the Cheetahs tomorrow (Saturday 6 June, 2pm UK time).
Halfpenny, who joined the Lions in South Africa this week after staying in Wales to get back to full fitness after suffering with a thigh injury, will make his Lions debut, while Hook and Powell both came off the bench in the side's 74-10 thrashing of the Golden Lions on Wednesday evening. Ospreys Lee Byrne and Shane Williams have been handed their second starts of the tour after helping the Lions to a 37-25 victory of the Royal XV last Saturday.
Welsh front row players Adam Jones and Matthew Rees take up places on the bench for the Bloemfontain encounter.
Lions captain Paul O'Connell returns to lead his troops after sitting out Wednesday night's game, while fellow Irishmen Luke Fitzgerald and Donncha O'Callaghan will also pull on the Lions jersey for the first time.
WRU Board director Gerald Davies, British and Irish Lions tour manager said, "The starting XV to play the Cheetahs is an interesting one with club and country combinations in many areas. The boys who played against the Golden Lions put down a marker in terms of the way we want to play and I know those playing against the Cheetahs will be very keen to keep the momentum going and produce another strong Lions performance."
Commenting on the team selection Head Coach Ian McGeechan said, "With the selection of Donncha O'Callaghan, Leigh Halfpenny and Luke Fitzgerald in the starting XV it means that all the squad players will have taken to the field according to plan. We also have new arrival Gordon D'Arcy on the bench which gives him a chance to get straight into the action."
"Although there are no players backing up from the starting XV against the Golden Lions several of the replacements who saw action in that match have now been selected for their first start. For the Cheetahs match Andy Powell, Stephen Ferris, Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Harry Ellis and James Hook are all in the starting XV team for the first time."
"The team includes an all Welsh back three, an Irish combination in midfield and a Munster second row pairing. We are also are continuing to build partnerships and combinations among the players from the four nations and this is reflected in the front row where Scottish team-mates Euan Murray and Ross Ford will pack down in the front row alongside Andrew Sheridan, and the backrow where three players from three different nations will play alongside each other."
British and Irish Lions v Cheetahs:
Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales); Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Keith Earls (Munster/Ireland), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland), Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales); James Hook (Ospreys/Wales), Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers/England); Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks / England), Ross Ford (Edinburgh / Scotland), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints / Scotland), Donncha O'Collaghan (Munster / Ireland), Paul O'Connell (capt, Munster / Ireland), Stephen Ferris (Ulster / Ireland), Joe Worsley (London Wasps / England), Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues / Wales).
Replacements: Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales), Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England), Nathan Hines (Perpignan/Scotland), Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland), Ronan O'Gara (Munster/Ireland), Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster/Ireland)
Wales Under 18 captain Callum Bradbury is delighted to have seen his side claim a narrow 18-17 victory against a strong SA Schools 'A' side to end the three-match Under 19 International Series in South Africa on a high note.
The Wales U18 squad spent an emotional day in the drug-riddled townnship of Hout Bay. Hout Bay Warriors President Fred Johannes said the visit was 'the talk of the town' and will dream about the day everyday for the rest of his life.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.
A joint venture between the WRU and Admiral saw hundreds of children enjoy the Admiral Festival of Rugby held at the National Centre of Excellence at the weekend where Welsh internationals Sam Warburton, Scott Williams and Rob Evans were in attendance.
Wll Jones leads Wales U18s into battle this afternoon against Italy where the Welsh side will be seeking to bounce back from their narrow defeat to SA Schools in their opening clash of the U19 International Series
All four regions attended a successful training camp staged last weekend at the WRU National Centre of Excellence. It was a chance for new Wales Women's head coach Rowland Phillips to deliver his key messages to players and coaches as he prepares for the new season.
Wales U18 Team Manager Gethin Watts believes the next couple of weeks will be 'extremely beneficial' to the future of Welsh rugby as his side prepare to take part in the Under 19 International Series being staged in South Africa.
The WRU is searching for 12 new rugby development apprentices following a successful first year of its WRU Coach Core programme. Craig Duncan and Jess Hancock have flourished in the first year of the programme which has given them a real direction in their lives.
The WRU signed TV comedian Rhod Gilbert up to a 'Coaching Children Level 1' course before letting him loose on an U8s side at Whitland Junior Borderers - we went behind the scenes to film the making of 'Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience' see the results here.
Llandovery are aiming to make it three titles in a row in this year's Foster's National 7s being held at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 28 August. Drovers assistant coach Simon Davies and Lee Rees assess their sides chances
A pioneering strength and conditioning programme has been delivered to more than 8000 boys and girls at hub schools throughout Wales this season, helping to develop stronger, more flexible athletes for rugby and other sports.
The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series returns to the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on July 22nd when all four Welsh regions go head to head. Scarlets skills coach Dai Flanagan and Blues Elite Performance Pathway Manager Richard Hodges along with current Welsh squad members were at the launch of this season's event