England lock Geoff Parling will become the fifth player to captain the British & Irish Lions on the 125th anniversary tour when he leads the side in the final midweek game against the RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park on Tuesday night.
Parling, who won his first Lions Test cap as a second half replacement in the 23-21 first Test win over the Qantas Wallabies in Brisbane, is one of four members of that victorious team to start in Melbourne. The others are fellow replacements Dan Lydiate, Richard Hibbard and Dan Cole.
Two more unused replacements from the Suncorp Stadium, Sean Maitland and Owen Farrell, are also given a run out against the Rebels, while fit-again centre Manu Tuilagi makes his return, having not played since sustaining a shoulder injury in the Queensland Reds game. He is joined in the midfield by England team-mate Brad Barritt.
“I am very pleased for Geoff. For him to be part of a winning Lions Test side is very special and he has shown throughout the tour that he is one of the many leaders we have in the squad so we are looking forward to seeing him in that captaincy role,” said Lions head coach Warren Gatland.
“It is also good to get Manu back on the pitch after a frustrating injury. This is a good chance for him and others to put their hands up.”
Sean O’Brien returns to the No 7 jersey after two runs on the blindside, while fullback Rob Kearney plays his second match of the tour.
“We are obviously delighted to start the Test series against the Wallabies with a win but this game is very important to us in terms of keeping the momentum going,” explained Lions tour manager Andy Irvine.
“Those playing on Tuesday have a major part in delivering this and at the same time keeping the pressure on for Test match selection.”
British & Irish Lions (v RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels)
15. Rob Kearney (Leinster / Ireland)
14. Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors / Scotland)
13. Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers / England)
12. Brad Barritt (Saracens / England)
11. Simon Zebo (Munster / Ireland)
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens / England)
9. Conor Murray (Munster / Ireland)
1. Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors / Scotland)
2. Richard Hibbard (Ospreys / Wales)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers / England)
4. Richie Gray (Scotland)
5. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers / England, captain)
6. Dan Lydiate (Dragons / Wales)
7. Sean O’Brien (Leinster / Ireland)
8. Toby Faletau (Dragons / Wales)
16. Rory Best (Ulster / Ireland)
17. Makovina Vunipola (Saracens / England)
18. Matt Stevens (Saracens / England)
19. Ian Evans (Ospreys / Wales)
20. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys / Wales)
21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers / England)
22. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester / England)
23. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors / Scotland)