Cardiff Rugby wing Josh Adams, Connacht Rugby centre Bundee Aki and Scarlets prop Wyn Jones will make their British and Irish Lions Test debuts on Saturday in the decisive third and final Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
They are three of six changes made by head coach Warren Gatland as the Lions bid to claim the series 2-1 after losing the second Test 27-9 last weekend at the same venue.
Adams, who is set to feature in the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time next season after nine tries in 13 European Rugby Challenge Cup appearances, ousts Bath Rugby’s Anthony Watson, while Aki displaces Gloucester Rugby’s Chris Harris and Jones replaces Saracens’ Mako Vunipola.
Elsewhere, two of the other changes see Scarlets players taking over from Exeter Chiefs, with Liam Williams playing his first Test of the tour at full-back instead of Stuart Hogg and Ken Owens starting his first Test of the trip in place of Luke Cowan-Dickie.
The final alteration is the recall of Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Ali Price, who swaps places with Munster Rugby’s Conor Murray again.
Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones is named as captain once more to win his 12th consecutive cap, moving him alongside Graham Price (1977 – 1983) and Mike Gibson (1966 – 1974) in the list of most Lions Test appearances.
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) August 3, 2021
On the bench, Ospreys lock Adam Beard, Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell and Exeter Chiefs No.8 Sam Simmonds feature for the first time in the series and will all win their first Lions cap should they take the field.
“The matchday 23 have an incredibly special opportunity in front of them – to seal a Lions series victory in South Africa,” said Gatland. “It doesn’t get much bigger than this and we’re excited by the challenge that faces us on Saturday.
“We’ve no excuses from last week; the Springboks put us under pressure in the second half and deserved the win. We have to be much better than that second-half performance, and I believe we will be.”
South Africa are forced into two changes from their victorious second Test team, with Sale Sharks scrum-half Faf de Klerk and Stormers back-rower Pieter-Steph du Toit having failed to recover from injuries they suffered in that game.
Montpellier Hérault Rugby scrum-half Cobus Reinach and ex-Gloucester forward Franco Mostert replace them, with Sale Sharks’ Lood de Jager being promoted off the bench to fill the latter’s spot at lock.