British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland (L) and captain Sam Warburton.
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland (L) and captain Sam Warburton. David Rogers / Getty Images

Force determined to put in solid performance against Lions

THE Western Force won't reveal its hand until today, but captain Matt Hodgson said whoever wears blue against the British and Irish Lions tomorrow night will ensure the tourists get a warm welcome.

With a Super Rugby clash against the Waratahs in Perth on Sunday, Force coach Michael Foley has a 35-man squad in training and will name his team to tackle the Lions today, and one to meet the Tahs on Thursday.

Hodgson is set to be one of a few to play both matches, and he's keen to help make it a difficult first game for Warren Gatland's side on Australian soil.

"If we can't get the win, we can hopefully get a solid performance and hopefully hurt a few of their bodies," Hodgson said.

The Lions arrived in Perth yesterday, and Gatland wasted little time in announcing a line-up which includes five players, Manu Tuilagi, Rory Best, Dan Cole, Ian Evans and Sean O'Brien, who will be making their Lions debuts, and no one who started in the 59-8 win against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on Saturday.

Captain Sam Warburton is still missing with his knee injury, but should be fit to play the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Saturday night.

Veteran Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll, on his fourth Lions tour, will lead the side in Warburton's absence.

Coach Gatland said he was looking for this side to build on the Hong Kong result.

"There were a lot of positives to come out of the match. Our fitness and application were excellent, and we operated well in the set-pieces," he said.

"That said, it was our first match, and naturally we were all a bit rusty, and there is definitely room for improvement. Of course this is a completely new team, and the challenge is to ensure that the selected players continue the on-field progress we are seeking."

The Lions face the Wallabies in three Tests, Brisbane ( June 22), Melbourne (June 29), and Sydney (July 6).


British and Irish Lions

  • 15 Leigh Halfpenny
  • 14 Tommy Bowe
  • 13 Brian O'Driscoll
  • 12 Manu Tuilagi
  • 11 George North
  • 10 Jonathan Sexton
  • 9 Conor Murray
  • 1 Cian Healy
  • 2 Rory Best
  • 3 Dan Cole
  • 4 Alun-Wyn Jones
  • 5 Ian Evans
  • 6 Tom Croft
  • 7 Sean O'Brien
  • 8 Jamie Heaslip

Reserves: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Matt Stevens, 18, Geoff Parling, 19 Toby Faletau, 20 Ben Youngs, 21 Owen Farrell, 22 Sean Maitland.