British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has tasked South African-born wing Duhan van der Merwe with keeping the Springboks’ Cheslin Kolbe in check on Saturday.
Gatland named his match 23 for Saturday’s first Test at Cape Town Stadium yesterday and opted for Scotland’s Van der Merwe at left wing instead of Wales’s Josh Adams.
Admitting it was a difficult decision, Gatland says of Van der Merwe’s assignment against Kolbe: “It’s going to be a real challenge.
“Cheslin didn’t get many opportunities. He had one opportunity in that ‘A’ game and made the most of it.
“So we can’t afford to do what we did in that ‘A’ game and kick the ball down his throat.
“We won’t be giving him, hopefully, as much time and space on the ball on Saturday.
“It’s a challenge for [Duhan].
“I spoke to him yesterday and said to him you know what’s coming on the weekend and he was fully aware.
“Every time he touches the ball they will be trying to hit him with everything they’ve got, there will probably be some verbals at him as well.
“He’s well aware of what’s at stake, but he’s incredibly relaxed. The way he’s been running with the ball and beating defenders and scoring tries – top try scorer in the Six Nations.
“It was a really tough call leaving Josh Adams out…”
Gatland’s side will be captained by fit-again lock Alun Wyn Jones, with Ali Price named at scrumhalf in place of Conor Murray, who was named skipper before Jones recovered from a dislocated shoulder.
B&I Lions: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Ali Price, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Wyn Jones. Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Liam Williams.